Boris Johnson’s government should demand that banks and major companies in the UK produce their own climate transition plans, Labour has said.
The opposition party is pushing for tighter regulation on big business to make sure their plans align with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C.
Labour said the prime minister should “mandate” Britain’s financial institutions and its FTSE100 companies to publish their carbon footprint and adopt a credible plan to reduce emissions.
In a speech ahead of next month’s Cop26 summit in Glasgow, Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said top companies could make a “profound difference” in the push for net zero emissions.
“Many of our leading financial institutions and businesses have been ahead of government when it comes to climate action,” said the senior Labour MP. “But we need all to meet the standards of the best.”
Miliband added: “Furthermore, we should be asking in Glasgow that all other major economies follow suit. This proposal would be a game-changer in the fight against climate breakdown, setting a global standard and making the UK the green finance capital of the world.”
The investments of firms and financial institutions based in the City of London account for around15 per cent of global emissions, Labour said. The opposition claimed regulation could be used to mobilise trillions of pounds in pursuit of the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
Miliband also used Wednesday’s speech to attack Johnson’s leadership – urging him to “get off the sun lounger and start being a statesman” to prevent Cop26 becoming a failure.
The shadow minister also accused the Conservative government of a “decade of inaction” which has stalled progress on renewable energy and has led to Britain’s current fuel crisis.
Pointing to Labour’s commitment to invest an extra £28bn every year until 2030 to tackle the climate crisis, he accused the chancellor Rishi Sunak of “positioning himself as the anti-green chancellor” by refusing to commit big enough sums to climate transition plans.
He condemned the Tory government for cutting its aid budget at a time when trust between developing and developed countries is key. “The government have been at best bystanders and at worst, contributors to global inaction,” he argued.
It comes as Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon used a TED talk to say the country must “be careful” not to leave communities behind as it transitions away from oil and gas.
The SNP leader again refused to voice opposition to the Cambo oil field development proposed near Shetland fiercely opposed by climate activists.
Ms Sturgeon stressed the supply of oil and gas cannot be turned off in the short term because that may lead to a spike in imports and economic problems caused by mass lay-offs.
But she also repeated calls for licences to extract oil and gas from the North Sea to be reassessed by the UK government given the current threat of climate change.
“We’ve got to be careful that we don’t leave people and communities behind in that transition,” the first minister said. “We’ve got to be careful we don’t switch domestic production to imports of oil and gas – that would be counter-productive.”