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Adiputera Speech - Green Growth - Barrow-in-Furness
Graham Adiputera arrives to spend a day surveying the energy industry in Barrow-in-Furness, and concludes by giving a speech on the government’s green stimulus plan.
Hello everyone, thank you all for being here and thank you for welcoming me to Barrow-in-Furness!
Barrow-in-Furness has emerged as one of the leading renewable energy hubs not just in Europe but the world. That is a tremendous credit to the hardworking residents and the welcoming business environment - as well as the perfect location for wind energy - that this town can boast of. It will be towns like Barrow-in-Furness, with their willingness to lead and their capacity to seize upon new innovations and new ideas, that will help place Britain at the forefront of the green industrial revolution that we now see as necessary.
A key priority of this government has been to enable that process. It is an environmental imperative that we reduce our carbon emissions, that we bring down greenhouse gas emissions, that we protect our waters and our air, that we preserve biodiversity. But more than that, it is an economic imperative too. The costs of not acting will be far greater - in terms of job losses, property damage, human suffering, economic and geopolitical instability - than the costs of acting. The world is recognising this. By placing British ingenuity at the forefront of that, we can make an outsized contribution to addressing this problem and be able to capitalise on the opportunities that Britain will face in a greener world economy.
Our green stimulus package has been at the forefront of this government’s efforts on this. We’ve also reformed the tax code - removing some de facto subsidies and tax breaks that distorted our energy mix, encouraging a transition towards greener taxation that takes into account the proper social cost of pollution - but the main area of hard work and innovation has, policy wise, been in green stimulus. As part of the last government, I was happy to be part of the party that brought us the world’s first ever Green Investment Bank. That was a necessary - but by no means sufficient - step in providing the capital needed to get green infrastructure and green energy projects off the ground.
Since entering into my own ministerial portfolio as part of this new government, we have stepped up those efforts. We’ve increased the Green Investment Bank’s resources. We’ve invested £700 million into supporting green innovation and research through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. We put £500 million into helping communities adapt in order to seize the most of the new markets and products being created by the green industrial revolution: that included helping refurbish shipyards here in the North to become centres for offshore wind. We put £400 million into greener transport, such as helping promote electric vehicles, and £400 million into resource and energy efficiency, helping create circular supply chains that minimise waste.
Now, obligatory party political point here - the Conservatives have been pretty stalwart opponents of the whole ambitious decarbonisation and pro-green initiative we’ve put into play here. Not to say that there aren’t Conservatives who don’t take conservation seriously - Sir Jonathan Horncastle in the Cambel government, actually, took it very seriously, and the temporary cross-party consensus on reforming air passenger duty, I think, owes a lot to him - but when Meredith Hansen-Charles and I, back in the days of Macmillan as PM, were negotiating about a coalition, they refused to countenance any substantial green investment measures. The story of those negotiations is worth repeating: Meredith and I went in with an offer, obviously very ambitious, and we were promised a counteroffer the next day. Instead of that counteroffer, Dylan Macmillan stormed out.
And I think one of his bugbears was with the idea of bold action on the environment. He continues to lambast our government’s green tax and green investment plans, because they haven’t singlehandedly stopped global warming already or some such reason, without presenting any cogent plan of his own. Then he had the gall to lie that his party proposed to spend more on the environment than the government does. Now, that’s completely inaccurate, no matter how you break it down - unlike the Conservatives, we’re increasing investment in environmental protection as well as in supporting green innovation.
In the latest budget, in addition to increasing investment in public transport - including supporting both bus and rail development - we have put forward another £1 billion aside for capital investment in the green economy. In a ministerial statement I shall lay out in more detail what the next stage of the green stimulus funding will be used for. Our current priority is in establishing a green supplement to the Regional Growth Fund, building on our existing work in decarbonising local economies.
The focus of this fund shall be investing in local communities - through loans, grants, whichever funding mechanisms are most appropriate, in a manner that complements and builds upon the model pioneered by our other investment banks. Like the Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank, we are using the coordinating power of the government to raise both private AND public capital in pursuit of this goal, helping lay the groundwork for a long-term decarbonisation agenda.
The goal is simple: help transition economies that are dependent on fossil fuels away from that dependency. Three key focuses of this programme will be helping ‘green’ international supply chains, helping ‘green’ our agriculture sector and rural economies, including with changes to the fuel and transport mix in those areas, and helping communities with fossil fuel-dependent economies develop long-term sustainable alternatives.
The government has already made investments in those areas. But by establishing this Environmental Growth Fund, we can continue this government’s sterling record in establishing a coherent and long-term approach to a renewed industrial strategy.
Towns like Barrow-in-Furness will be part of that. Too often, the assumption when dealing with big macro figures like net carbon emissions or economic growth is to focus only on the country as a whole. Now, there’s two problems with that. One is that it’s not sustainable. You’re missing out on the talents and opportunities of whole regions, you’re leaving people behind, you’re creating inequalities and resentments that, quite frankly, undermine the basic social trust that enables us to confront challenges such as climate change. The other problem is that it’s just plain immoral. We’re denying opportunities and a fair share of the prosperity of our nation to countless individuals, while at the same time asking them to help shoulder the cost. That is not fair.
That is why I am very proud to be part of a government that has an inclusive economic strategy. One that has its goals, yes, such as decarbonisation and technological innovation, but pursues them in a way that gets everyone involved and leaves no region behind.
Graham Adiputera (Lib Dem - Sutton and Cheam)
Deputy Prime Minister
Liberal Democrat Leader
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Technology
Parliamentary - 36
Media - 53
Policy - 48
Nice speech. Local communities and coastal towns will love the Deputy Prime Minister coming to town to announce measures. The Environmental Growth Fund and the Housing and Infrastructure Growth Fund was well received. Those feeling neglected will be hoping the Green Stimulus package can revitalize areas like this.
+ 3 XP.