In response to the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves’ speech at Labour Party Conference today, climate solutions charity Ashden, applauded the commitments by the party to ‘re-build Britain’ and ‘re-wire Britain’, make the UK a clean energy superpower, create new green jobs across the country and provide people with a sense of security and hope through economic and energy stability.
Ms Reeves mentioned support for various sectors connected to decarbonisation and the green transition, including providing the critical infrastructure for energy, housing and transport, supporting retrofit across the country, and creating new jobs across from plumbers to scientists.
Dr Ashok Sinha, CEO at Ashden said: “We warmly welcome such commitment. The action taken globally between now and 2030 will determine whether stay below 1.5 degrees C of warming, the actions of next parliament will be definitive when it comes to the UK’s decarbonisation in line with this.
He pointed out that ‘security’ was a key word in Ms Reeves speech, something that is vital for us as individuals and a nation.
“Indeed, in relation to the climate emergency – security can only be gained through rapid action.
Certainty around decarbonisation targets is essential for businesses investment, and Ashden asks for this to be accompanied by immediate investment in vocational education to address the growing skills gap in the workforce needed to deliver the clean energy transition. In particular, there is an urgent need to tackle the construction skills crisis, so that new low carbon homes can be delivered and our existing drafty housing stock made energy efficient.”
Dr Sinha also emphasised the urgency of learning from and supporting organisations that are already working in clean energy, construction and retrofit, the circular economy, and regenerative agriculture so that high speed decarbonisation and environmental protection in the UK can happen.
Ashden point out that the UK has committed through the Paris agreement to reduce carbon emissions by 67% by 2030 as part of the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution. And the recommended pathway of Climate Change Committee’s Sixth carbon budget requires a 78% reduction in UK territorial emissions between 1990 and 2035. In effect, bringing forward the UK’s previous 80% target by nearly 15 years.
“Speed is of the essence,” says Dr Sinha, “and the devil is definitely in the detail of investment, supporting those skilled organisations that are already in a position to scale up, training the necessary workers so they have the skills for this rollout of technologies, and following through on commitments with no holds barred.
“We must have everything in place in the next five years in terms of decarbonisation in order to be anywhere close to meeting the targets which the current government’s Climate Change Committee and climate scientists have stated are necessary in order to avoid economic, environmental and social crisis.”
Ashden works with a raft of low carbon pioneers in the UK that are developing new technologies and ways of working, and ensure the benefits are felt across society. Their stories highlight the potential to build a dynamic, inclusive green economy, appealing to young people and others seeking work.
Partners of Ashden, many of whom have been previous Ashden Award winners, also provided feedback on the policies announced:
Greater Manchester’s B4Box – an integrated construction company and retrofit specialist – is driving inclusivity with a unique approach, built on a partnership with Stockport Homes Group. The company make homes more energy efficient and create green jobs in communities badly affected by fuel poverty. B4Box combines multi-trade skills training – covering brickwork, joinery, plastering, tiling, roofing and more.
Aileen McDonnell, CEO and Founder of B4Box says: “We hope that Labour will commit to the vital support construction companies especially SMEs need, so they can provide people with training in order to do real, skilled jobs. It’s essential that companies can focus on recruiting local people, particularly those who face challenges finding work or are under-represented in construction and supporting retrofit will be one of the most sensible ways forward for a future government and the country.”
Tamsin Lishman, CEO of UK ground source heat pump manufacturer and installer, The Kensa Group, said: “As a British manufacturer, installer and training provider of ground-source heat pumps, Kensa sits at the heart of the transition to net zero. We are already leading the way and scaling up after receiving a £70 million investment in May from Octopus Energy and Legal and General, which will help us realise our plan of rapid growth to manufacture and install over 50,000 heat pumps a year by 2030 and support 7,000 new green jobs in the process.
“Critical to this plan is long-term policy and market certainty, giving us the confidence to expand our manufacturing base, take on new employees and invest in new products. We welcome the Labour Party’s announcements on warm homes and green skills as a strong indication of its commitment to decarbonising our homes. We look forward to engaging with the party in the coming months to understand the details behind these headline announcements.”
Photo: A Kensa ‘shoebox’ being installed in a domestic social housing flat which delivers heating and hot water to the smallest of properties. The Kensa Group are the UK’s only manufacturer and installer of ground source heat pumps, creating new jobs, warmer homes that are cheaper to heat, and making a massive contribution to the UK’s reduction in carbon emissions. Supporting ‘home-grown’ organisations was a key part of Rachel Reeve’s speech. Credit: Kensa
James Barry, CEO at Renewable Parts, a supply chain and refurbishment specialist in the wind industry in Argyll, Scotland, said:
“Growing job opportunities and skills of individuals across the UK is important as our reliance on renewable energy increases. The UK has a massive opportunity to introduce a circular economy supply chain to help support the growth of wind energy and investment in jobs and skills is welcome and required. Renewable Parts has always supported investment in new talent, running graduate and apprenticeship training schemes and working with partners in the CWIC initiative to increase industry wide importance.”
Photo: A wind turbine being refurbished by an engineer at Renewable Parts workshop in Lochgilphead, Scotland. It supplies refurbished and new parts to over 2,000 wind turbines each year and trains and employs local people. Support for renewable energy, including the wind sector will be crucial for the UK’s decarbonisation plans, including making sure the UK’s growing number of wind turbines are repaired, not sent to landfill. Credit: Bill Bailey/Ashden
Ben Rawlence, founder and CEO at Black Mountains College in Wales which trains young people in the agricultural systems that need to change in order to protect our land and food supply, said: “The choice before us is whether we start the process of adapting to the impacts of climate change now or later. This announcement is therefore welcome but we have an awful lot of catching up to do.” Black Mountains College has an accredited three-year degree course called, Sustainable futures: arts, ecology and systems change.
Photo: Education at Black Mountains College in Wales supports climate action and adaptation. Vocational courses teach regenerative approaches to land and woodland management, and are taught in nature, with a focus on creating positive change in the region and beyond. Credit: Jacob Morley/Ashden