August 02, 2020
MP calls for massive green private sector investment
Professor Brian Sturgess

Government policy needs to focus on enabling the private private-sector to invest heavily in the green industries of the future such as clean technologies for heating homes and institutions, for the expansion of electric vehicles, expanding renewable energy’s role in transmission and building battery storage capacity to balance the distribution of energy in the aftermath of the corona virus crisis. In an article in the House Magazine, the UK’s leading and influential publication for MPs and peers in Parliament and lobbyists, Felicity Buchan, the Conservative MP for Kensington, argued that although the Chancellor’s £30 billion jobs package was a fitting response to the scale of the economic challenge facing the country, it is essential to “build back better and make sure that goals to level the country and “tackle climate change have not been side-lined, but put front and centre of our economic recovery.” 

Felicity, an ex-investment banker, is an active member of the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), a caucus of over 80 mainly back bench Parliamentarians who support the promotion of electric vehicles, alongside active transport policies and increased planting of trees to tackle air pollution and “believe that the best future for UK manufacturing industry lies in clean growth, and that government policy should therefore support R&D and investment in clean technologies.” Felicity notes that if the government lifts the cap on the amount of new renewable energy capacity it contracts for at the next auction round, it could unleash over £20 billion of private investment. This move would bring investment to local supply chains immediately and support 12,000 direct jobs in the mid-2020s. She has called for “more Vehicle to Grid charging infrastructure in Kensington, her own constituency, to reduce reliance on non-renewable peak energy during periods of high demand.” Felicity, believes that regulations requiring public and private car parks and developers to include charge points in new homes would aid Kensington and Chelsea Council to deliver on their car charging commitment.

According to theenergyst, there are already 18GW of ‘shovel ready’ battery storage, solar and wind projects that could be quickly kick-started if government genuinely wants a recovery led by green jobs and investment.  Falls in the cost of renewables and storage means these could be delivered by private sector investment, enabling public investment to be focused on other green energy policies, such as the Chancellor’s home insulation grant scheme announced. Furthermore, a green emphasis would be popular, a recent poll from Ipsos MORI, on behalf of the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), revealed that British people would view a failure to tackle pollution and climate change in a post-coronavirus recovery plan as ‘bad for the economy in the long run’ (67%), ‘a sign that the government has the wrong priorities’ (69%) and ‘proof the government doesn’t listen to ordinary people like me’ (69%). This consensus holds regardless of age, region and voting behaviour.  There is no trade-off in the short-run between a growing economy and a healthy environment. In the long-run, however, a climate shift will cause an even greater existential threat to jobs and livelihoods than the pandemic. Isolation against climate change is impossible.

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