Climate change "about opportunity, not pain"
Politicians need to tell voters lifestyles need to change if we are to successfully tackle global warming - but behind that transition is the "biggest market opportunity" the world has seen, the shadow environment secretary told delegates at the Sustainabilitylive! environmental show.
"And you are here because there are huge commercial opportunities to be seized finding, promoting and selling solutions to climate change," he told visitors to NEMEX, the energy efficiency and renewables exhibition that forms part of Sustainabilitylive!
The continuing rise in greenhouse gas emissions can be halted if people seize upon the low-carbon technology that is already available, "a lot of it in this very impressive exhibition - from solar power and cleaner engines through to energy efficiency," he said.
The transition to a low-carbon economy will not be painless, he acknowledged, noting the need for "tough decisions on energy generation, on nuclear power capacity, on the way we generate and deliver power to homes and businesses, on where we build our homes and how we make sure existing homes are made more energy efficient."
But it is business working in the environmental sector that will make sure that calls to fight climate change are not rejected by society as an obligation to self-sacrifice. Dealing with climate change isn't all about "pain and wearing hair shirts and making sacrifices," Peter Ainsworth said.
"There are hundreds of businesses here [at Sustainabilitylive!] offering pain-free solutions both to the impact we are having on our local environment and carbon emissions.
"So it's not about pain, it's about opportunity. This is a rapidly growing industry employing rapidly growing numbers of people almost by the month."