In an impassioned speech to Labour Party activists before the 2015 General Election, Miliband also announced that his party would commit to take all of the carbon out of electricity by 2030, and develop a Green Investment Bank with more powers to borrow.

“Under this Government, Britain lags behind Germany, Japan, the United States and even India and China for low-carbon green technologies and services,” he said. “The environment isn’t that fashionable anymore – but it matters.

“It’s incredibly important to our economy and there is no more important an issue for me than tackling climate change.”

Energy efficiency

Miliband, who served as energy and climate change secretary in the last Labour Government, attacked current Prime Minister David Cameron over his environmental record, accusing the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition of failing to deliver on its promise to be the ‘Greenest Government Ever’.

He then reinforced Labour’s green commitments by echoing an announcement made earlier in the Conference by the Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint; to make energy efficiency a ‘national infrastructure priority’ and deliver permanent savings on consumers’ energy bills by insulating at least five million draughty homes across the country.

Earlier in the Conference, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle announced that Labour would deliver ‘a new deal with the water companies’ – focused on ‘affordability and fairness for all’.

“We will reform the industry, creating a national affordability scheme – compulsory for all water companies – to help people struggling to pay their bills wherever they live in the UK,” said Flint. 

“And in addition to more transparency for the first time, under a Labour government, we’ll give the regulator new powers to modify the terms of water company licenses.”

Labour Conference: Industry reaction

Dr Nina Skorupska, chief executive, Renewable Energy Association (REA)

“Energy efficiency is rightly the number one priority in the war on cold homes, but renewable heat technologies have a key role to play too. For the nearly four million UK homes off the gas grid, renewable technologies such as biomass, heat pumps and solar hot water are the most cost-effective options for heat, as well as being the most climate-friendly.

“The energy costs and emissions of new homes also need urgent attention, as Labour’s Zero Carbon Homes policy has been battered by this Government. Energy efficiency and renewable technologies will work best, saving the most money for bill-payers and the most carbon for the environment, when they’re designed into buildings.

“Large-scale renewable heating projects can also make a big dent in the emissions and energy costs of UK homes and businesses, whether it’s a housing development connected to a geothermal district heating scheme or a factory using biomass for industrial processes.

Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist, Greenpeace UK

“Ed Miliband today showed he understands the scale of the climate challenge and made some real steps towards shifting the UK economy onto a greener path. It’s a path which leads to a vibrant economy, better, warmer homes and the million green tech jobs he talked of.

People will welcome the jobs and prosperity a greener economy will bring, but these benefits will only be delivered by cleaning up our power sector, and that means getting rid of coal. Ed needs to take a stand against this government’s planned multi-billion subsidies to prop up the big six’s dirty coal plants. It’s what the people want.”

Donna Hume, energy campaigner, Friends of the Earth

“On the day of the UN Climate Summit and a few days after hundreds of thousands took to the streets to call for action, finally Ed Miliband is putting climate change at the centre of Labour’s plans.

“Backing green jobs and energy saving is an excellent start – but in order to build a better future, Labour must now show it is serious about cleaning up Britain’s energy by banning fracking and phasing out coal.”

“Labour’s pledge to properly insulate five million properties over the next ten years is a major step forward, benefitting households struggling with energy bills, and boosting efforts to cut Britain’s carbon emissions.

“But to ensure no-one is left shivering in their home and to deliver on UK climate targets, Labour must commit to insulating four million homes within the next Parliament, and not leave the bulk to the next decade.

John Alker, director of policy and communications, at UK Green Building Council

“With a pledge to tackle high energy bills by insulating millions of homes and a commitment to boost the low carbon sector by creating one million green jobs, Labour is hitting the right notes on the green economy.

“After last year’s singular focus on the price freeze, it’s refreshing to see Labour put household energy efficiency front and centre of its energy plans. There is also a clarity of thinking that the global challenge of tackling climate change is not a burden to be shouldered but an opportunity to be grasped.”

Gareth Stace, head of climate and environment policy, EEF (manufacturer trade group) 

“Manufacturers up and down the country will welcome the commitment from the Labour Leader to create an environment where the UK is clearly seen as the place to invest in high value, high skilled and highly paid jobs. We must ensure that the UK is seen as a world leader in low carbon innovation.

“Government support here is crucial, from arming young people with STEM skills, support within the science base and government procurement. In the transition to a low carbon economy, we must avoid becoming a high cost market that others feed, but ensure that the UK demonstrates that you can achieve both green and growth at the same time.”

“It is right that Labour has focussed on the significant energy efficiency potential remaining in the UK’s housing stock and, the savings to households it can deliver, but it is disconcerting that there was no mention of industrial energy consumers. 

“It is essential we have a strong vision from Labour on how to drive further improvements in industrial energy efficiency and provide competitive industrial energy prices to allow UK manufacturing to operate on an equal footing with overseas competitors.

Matthew Farrow, executive director, EIC (energy trade association)

“This was very much a political speech by Maria Eagle as was to be expected, but encouraging that air quality is seen as a clear priority for Labour. The national framework of Low Emission Zones is something which EIC has lobbied for over several years and will be part of the answer.

“She also rightly emphasised the need to do more on flood protection, though surprising that she did not pledge Labour to implement SuDS (sustainable drainage for new properties) as a priority.

“Overall though, we would have liked to have seen more recognition that the UK environmental sector can be a major source of new jobs and growth and help rebalance the economy.”

TheLabour Party Conference took place on the same day as Cameron delivered an address to the UN in which he will underline the UK’s commitment to curbing emissions. Read more about the UN Climate Summit here.

Luke Nicholls & Brad Allen

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