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A Time for Vision and Purpose on Climate

Purpose on Payday ESG
By Dafydd Rees
27 June 2024
Green & Good (ESG and Impact)


The UK appears on the threshold of a momentous political shift this week. After 14 years and five Prime Ministers, the Tory Party appears to have run out of road at a point when our closest political partners and neighbours face unprecedented political crises.

A Labour Government needs to get private investment flowing again to finance the green transition at a time when both the US and Europe look set on a very different course on climate.  

The biggest political opportunity for Sir Keir Starmer to deliver on his promise of UK economic growth, is investing in the UK’s clean energy future. The UK can provide both the financial innovation and political momentum needed to ensure that the UK is a global leader in the fight against climate change.

In France, the populist right is within touching distance of power. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally took a third of the votes in the first round of French parliamentary elections.

France faces political deadlock and an increasingly hostile approach to the EU. This is part of a wider European trend. The rise of the hard right in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and across Eastern Europe is in part driven by hostility to climate change measures.

Italy and the Netherlands have watered down nature restoration laws and emissions targets following farmer protests. European centrist parties are being dragged to the right on net zero policies.

In the USA, there is mounting and widespread concern about President Biden’s age and health. Almost three quarters of Americans don’t believe he is fit for office according to a post-debate poll by CBS News.

The New York Times and Washington Post are just some of the prominent voices now calling for him to make way for another candidate. But with just over four months to polling day, there is no clear alternative or process to agree a replacement.

Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax and wants to end subsidies for electric vehicles and renewable energy. If re-elected in November a President Trump 2.0 will repeal President Biden’s green energy subsidies and incentives, scrap EV targets and pull the USA out of the Paris climate agreement once again.

Here in the UK, the Labour party promises it will be a mission-led Government. Labour plans to double onshore wind capacity in a single parliamentary term. Energy decarbonisation looks to be Sir Keir Starmer’s key climate change goal.

The political imperative is to position with the public the transition of the UK economy as an opportunity not a cost and ensure within Whitehall that the Treasury is focused on growth and investment.

Initiatives such as the publicly owned energy company Great British Energy and a National Wealth Fund can provide a focus for investors and civil servants alike. Reaching Net Zero targets requires the same co-investment with the private sector in low carbon hydrogen and scale up wind and solar that enabled vaccines to be successfully developed and distributed during the recent COVID pandemic. 

A new Labour Government faces a politically charged environment both at home and abroad. The challenge is despite all those difficulties is to provide the political stability and vision to deliver real change and economic opportunity.