Five climate change tests as extreme weather hits the world – Rachel Reeves

SHOCKING scenes of the devastating impact of extreme weather events across the world have appeared on our television screens in recent weeks.

This was the impact of the floods in Kirkstall, part of the Leeds West constituency of Rachel Reeves, in December 2015.

The worst wildfires in Turkey for a decade swept down to coastal holiday resorts. Canada and the western United States were also ravaged by blazes, while catastrophic floods in Western Europe claimed dozens of lives.

Closer to home, we have seen the impact of extreme weather with floods in Leeds, York, Hull, Hebden Bridge and elsewhere over the past few years.

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This was the impact of the floods in Kirkstall, part of the Leeds West constituency of Rachel Reeves, in December 2015.

The need to tackle the impact of climate change and to create a greener, more sustainable economy is one of the most urgent tasks facing us as a nation.

The floods that tore through parts of my Leeds West constituency on Boxing Day 2015 had a horrendous impact on many businesses. Some took up to a year to recover.

Wild fires have been sweeping through California this week - further reason, Rachel Reeves argues, for a joined-up plan to combat climate change.

So, I was pleased to visit the flood defences in Kirkstall to see the work that is under way. The defences will mean local people and business owners no longer have to endure sleepless nights every time there is heavy rain.

However, it took years of pressure to get the Government to finally deliver the funds needed to carry out this vital work along the River Aire.

When it comes to climate change and greening our economy to create the jobs of the future, the reality rarely matches the rhetoric of Boris Johnson and his government.

What makes this more frustrating is the Prime Minister’s failure to realise how well the North is equipped to lead the way in creating the green economy of the future.

Wild fires have been sweeping through California this week - further reason, Rachel Reeves argues, for a joined-up plan to combat climate change.

Our industrial heritage means our workforce in the region already has many of the skills and sectors needed to drive forward a new green revolution.

Electric vehicles, tidal energy, wind turbines and carbon capture technology will all cut the UK’s output of harmful greenhouse gases and help decarbonise our economy.

Several exciting projects are already under way. Our gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks, is exploring the potential of using hydrogen to cut carbon emissions.

From its base at Sherburn-in-Elmet near Selby, Switch Mobility is making what London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan described as the “finest buses in the world” with 67 of the firm’s pioneering electric vehicles now on the capital’s roads.

The Humber will see a significant increase in offshore wind production and I know the North can be at the heart of a green economy. For that to happen, however, there has to be far more Government support.

As Chancellor, I would strain every sinew to get more jobs that pay wages that can support a family right across Yorkshire and the country.

Instead of just rolling out the Prime Minister’s climate spokesperson to tell us not to rinse plates before we put them in the dishwasher ahead of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, the Prime Minister must come up with something better than tips on loading a dishwasher – especially when millions do not even have one.

That is why I have set out five clear tests for Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Government to give them the focus they lack and get us back on track

First, it is vital our British industries thrive. I want us to buy, make and sell more goods that are made in the UK.

That means expanding manufacturing including in green technology and digital services, as well as boosting jobs and exports.

Second, people need secure jobs with decent pay and conditions and greater choice at work.

That is something that only a Labour government has the will do deliver. We would help do this with our jobs promise – guaranteeing a job or training for any young person out of employment or education for six months,

You only have to look at British Gas’ scandalous “fire and rehire” treatment of its engineers – which saw protests outside their Leeds office and elsewhere – to see how little this Government cares about workers’ rights.

Third, everyone should feel the benefits of higher pay and a lower cost of living.

Buying, making and selling more goods here would see higher skilled jobs in sectors like manufacturing brought back to the UK from overseas.

Fourth, it’s vital no one and no region misses out on the opportunities to get on and succeed in life. Economic performance between the highest and lowest regions is predicted to widen between 2019 and 2024.

That is the reality we face under this Government.

Fifth, and this is why a green economy is so important to us all, the recovery must be sustainable. Our green economic recovery plan would support 400,000 new jobs and deliver high-skilled jobs in every part of the UK.

My five tests are about making sure the Government spends our money wisely instead of wasting taxpayers cash on dodgy Covid contracts given to ministers’ friends and Conservative donors.

These tests set out a road map to a fairer, more resilient and greener economy that will benefit everyone and help us tackle the immense threat posed by climate change.

Rachel Reeves is the Shadow Chancellor and Labour MP for Leeds West.