Rebuilding the nation in tough times but understanding the importance of the environment. That’s the mission and it’s one we’ve accomplished before.
It was a Labour government in 1945 that built the NHS and created our national parks. Those were tough times with public spending constraints far greater than we’re seeing now.
We can’t shy away from this mission. Because our Labour values tell us that everyone should have access to natural beauty, clean air and a climate that works whoever they are and wherever they live.
The evidence on the need to build a greener economy and society is both clear and compelling. But this Government has been a total failure on the green economy and a disaster for the environment.
You don’t have to take my word for it. The Environmental Audit Committee’s latest report was an environmental traffic light scorecard and there was no green on it. That says it all. The so-called ‘greenest Government ever’ with an environmental scorecard coloured red, red, red and amber.
It’s an outrage that we’ve had five wasted years on the environment. To turn this around we have to act.
Take flooding. The Government have been trumpeting the fact they’ve spent lots of money in one year. But it’s not about how much money you can spend in one year. It’s about having a long term strategy.
Spending all the money in one year fixing the problems you failed to prevent is proof you have no strategy.
Labour will take a different approach. That’s why I’ve pledged to create a new programme for climate adaptation which will put in place the long term plans we need to protect the country from increased flood risk.
Air pollution is another example. The Government have done nothing throughout this parliament to deal with a problem that kills 29,000 people a year.
That’s why this summer I announced our plans to create a national framework of Low Emission Zones as part of a serious strategy to address the problem.
Because we won’t reduce air pollution or flood risk by just rolling back the state and hoping for the best.
The Tories don’t understand this. They promised to build the green economy but the truth is they’ve just kept the old economy on life support.
One nation Labour understands that and knows that the correct response will see our economy and society go through major shifts in the next few decades.
We need to decarbonise our economy so that it runs on cleaner, greener energy. This is why Labour has committed to a 2030 target for power sector decarbonisation.
We need to recycle waste from industrial process and households to create new jobs and growth. That’s why in June this year my colleague Barry Gardiner announced that Labour will undertake a review of resource security to set out a plan to make this happen.
We need to feed more people with safe, affordable and nutritious food that doesn’t degrade the environment. That’s why Labour has pledged to reinstate our Food 2030 strategy to set out the actions needed to meet the challenges in our food and farming sector.
Putting the environment at the heart of what we do is what’s needed to do to build the economy of the future.
An economy that works for the majority of people, not just a privileged few will be an economy that works for the planet too.
Maria Eagle MP is shadow secretary of state for environment food and rural affairs