Ed Miliband: "You cannot divorce an environmental strategy from an economic strategy"

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Labour Leaders' speech to Green Alliance 35th birthday party - in full

It is great to be here and have the chance to wish the Green Alliance a happy 35th birthday. I think the Green Alliance is a fantastic organisation that I had a huge privilege of working with when I was the Climate Change Secretary.

I think the unique thing about the Green Alliance is that it brings together an extraordinary coalition of business, trade unions, green campaigners, and you move mountains. I want to pay particularly tribute to Matthew Spencer for the brilliant job he is doing as director of the Green Alliance.

I have to say speaking to this audience feels a lot like coming home, because I had such a fantastic time being the Climate Change Secretary. I just want to offer a few reflections on the task ahead of us.

It is the case that just before we left office we had the Copenhagen Summit, and I hope just after we come to office we are going to have the Paris Summit... So I want to offer a few reflections on how I see the task facing what I hope will be an in-coming Labour government.

I start from this premise: I believe in a more equal society. I believe Britain is too unequal and we need to change it.

And I believe that the environment and tackling climate change is an essential part of that. Why? Because it is the poorest people on the planet, and indeed the poorest people at home, who will suffer the effects of climate change. And more, to actually create a more equal society you do it through tackling climate change and environmental care.

That is the first lesson I want to suggest to you. I believe more strongly now than I did when I was Climate Change Secretary that you cannot divorce an environmental strategy from an economic strategy. Both of these things have to go hand-in-hand.

We set out an ambition to be a world leader in green technology and services, creating a million new green jobs. That is about a better environment and a better economy. That is the first and essential lesson.

Secondly, you have to give power to people if we are going to tackle the steep challenge that we face. I am a believer in devolution and giving power away. I think it was Aneurin Bevan who said "you gain power in order to give it away", and I believe that when it comes to the environment too.

I believe in devolving power downwards. Just as an example, when it comes to the task we face of insulating homes, of giving communities resources to do that, that should be done at a local level, not as a national programme, because actually you are going to be much, much more effective giving that power to city regions and others to make that happen.

The third lesson... is around the European Union. There can be no ambiguity about our place in the European Union if we are to tackle climate change.

We are two per cent of global emissions, the EU is 20 per cent of global emissions. Let us not fall for the myth that somehow we will be more influential and more powerful outside the European Union. We are much, much more powerful within it.

We have just seen an historic agreement between the US and China; now of course Britain is relevant to that, but we are much, much more relevant within the European Union.

If you believe in a country that is serious about climate change, you cannot be serious about leaving the European Union in my view. Now, there are many other reasons why you cannot be serious about leaving the European Union but that is simply one of them.

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