What is the future of UK infrastructure?

Green Alliance summer reception, 10 July 2013

  1. In a hurry? Watch the highlights of Ed Balls speech here. Full story below:
  2. Green Alliance's summer reception 2013 with Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
  3. Rt Hon Ed Balls MP, Shadow Chancellor and Martin Wolf CBE, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, discussed the future of UK infrastructure. The event was chaired by Green Alliance's director Matthew Spencer:
  4. Matthew Spencer_ opening speech
    Matthew Spencer_ opening speech
  5. On the same day Green Alliance announced that £180 billion of new infrastructure investment, equating to12 per cent of GDP, is at risk because of uncertainty about the UK’s commitmentto its current low carbon direction. This is based on Green Alliance's new economic analysis. See also our infographic The future of UK infrastructure, supported by WWF-UK, Greenpeace and Christian Aid:
  6. Good statistics and graphics in @GreenAllianceUK #UKInfra - need to recognise growth imperative for all scales of low carbon investment
  7. New Statesman's blog published a piece by our chief economist, Julian Morgan, highlighting why the gap between rhetoricand reality in the coalition’s infrastructure policy matters:
  8. Over 200 representatives from charity, business andgovernment came to join in the debate at BMA House.
  9. Sara Vaughan from sponsor E.ON welcomed everyone:
  10. Sarah Vaughan from E.ON kicks off the #UKinfra discussion. Says the majority of E.ON's investment is in low carbon. @talkingenergy
  11. What #offshorewind investors need from Government are stable policies against which to invest, says EON at #UKinfra event
  12. Next, the introduction from MatthewSpencer, director of Green Alliance, highlightedthe opportunity of revolutionising UK’s economy through low carboninfrastructure.
  13. Unlike previous industrial revolutions this can be done with nature, not against, says @Spencerthink #ukinfra
  14. He stated that a pragmatic focus on low carbon energy andtransport is needed:
  15. .@Spencerthink outlines how the majority of #UKinfra risks being put on hold due to policy indecision.
  16. 70% of the Government's infrastructure pipeline is low carbon including rail & wind reports @GreenAllianceUK #UKinfra 
  17. Coalition government has what an agony aunt calls 'commitment issues' on green economy says @Spencerthink #UKinfra
  18. He outlined that rebuilding investor confidence requires politicalleadership, policy consistency, and reform of infrastructure delivery to backdecentralised energy and transport projects.

    Martin Wolf of the FT responded and outlined that we have to stimulate investment to boost the weak recovery.
  19. "There is very strong case to make core of investment green investment" says @martinwolf_ #ukinfra
  20. Martin Wolf, FT: economy 18 per cent below trend. So clear case for stronger growth policies #ukinfra
  21. FT's Martin Wolf makes the case for an economic stimulus to boost the weakest recovery probably since the 19th century #UKinfra
  22. In weakest recovery probably ever, the case for increasing demand is overwhelming. Monetary policy not sufficient says Martin Wolf #UKinfra
  23. Martin Wolf saying the case for an investment stimulus to the economy is overwhelming #UKinfra
  24. We can be a leader in showing the feasibility of low carbon - need to persuade the sceptics says Martin Wolf #UKinfra @GreenAllianceUK
  25. Martin Wolf: the Labour party must commit to a carbon price with a strong escalator #UKinfra
  26. Martin Wolf: need a carbon price with a strong escalator. Carbon tax superior to trading. Labour should tax carbon. #UKinfra
  27. NGO and climate policy community needs a conversation about a carbon tax in the UK? #ukinfra Martin Wolf thinks so.
  28. Key policy options from @martinwolf_ - strong carbon price at EU level; innovation support; clear standards; govt-led investment #UKInfra
  29. Damn. Martin Wolf (FT) just gave a stunningly good speech challenging @edballsmp to be more concrete on climate change policy. #UKinfra
  30. Listen to Martin Wolf's 'stunningly good speech' here:
  31. Ed Balls first major speech on environmental issues:
  32. @edballsmp reflects that green NGOs & big business now largely agree on green policy. "Unthinkable 15 years ago". #ukinfra
  33. .@edballsmp says the scope and breadth of consensus from industry and civil society on action to decarbonise "striking" #ukinfra
  34. Need cross party consensus on low carbon says @edballsmp - as we now have remarkable consensus between business and green groups #UKInfra
  35. He embraced the need for a transition towards a low carbon infrastructure and pledged to put low carbon at the centre of policy making.
  36. .@edballsmp says low carbon is 'a great opportunity.' With leadership, we can get global agreement on #climate #UKinfra
  37. We'd be foolish just to rely on one imported high carbon energy source (ie gas), says @edballsmp #UKinfra
  38. We need major investment for economic reasons anyway so why not make it low carbon says @edballsmp #UKinfra 
  39. Businesses see a huge opportunity for jobs & innovation in green economy - @edballsmp #UKinfra
  40. More expensive to decarbonise later, "if we have to run to catch up" says @edballsmp #ukinfra
  41. He said that the current government has fostered policy uncertainty:
  42. Lots of references to George Osborne's speech 5 years ago promising not to "shirk from the fight" against climate change #UKinfra
  43. "I hear from business, at the moment the leadership needed from government on low carbon is not there" says @edballsmp #ukinfra
  44. "There will be difficult battles ahead," Ed Balls quotes Osborne's green speech. He grins & agrees there are battles #ukinfra
  45. He addressed the 2030 decarbonisation target:
  46. .@edballsmp: Gov't still committed to 2050 goals, but CCC shows that 2030 decarb target needed. HMT reticence undermines confidence #UKinfra
  47. Targets not enough but are important if you have commitment and resolve to achieve them says @edballsmp #UKinfra
  48. Labour would commit to a 2030 target if in government now says @edballsmp #UKinfra
  49. @edballsmp sets up opposition between Treasury and Labour on 2030 decarb target. #UKinfra
  50. I very much look forward to seeing prime minister Miliband pushing for a strong global deal in Paris 2015 says @edballsmp #UKinfra
  51. He commented on fracking:
  52. Data. Evidence is prices in UK and EU "unlikely" to be much lower because of fracking, says @edballsmp #ukinfra
  53. Renewables vs fracking is a "false choice": Ed Balls #UKinfra
  54. "Experts across spectrum say we are unlikely to see shale gas have impact on energy prices here in UK" says @edballsmp #ukinfra CORRECT!
  55. .@edballs recognises shale gas, even if done properly, may not deliver for many years so shouldn't affect current energy policy #ukinfra
  56. Balls says that with a Labour government, the GreenInvestment Bank would receive greater borrowing powers.
  57. Green Bank has been "perversely and arbitrarily" hamstrung to fit Osborne's self-imposed debt targets, tuts @edballsmp #ukinfra
  58. "A @UKLabour Govt would allow the Green Investment Bank to borrow as soon as possible after 2015 election" says @edballsmp #ukinfra HURRAH!
  59. Ed Balls just committed Labour to immediately allowing GIB to borrow. Significant policy commitment #ukinfra
  60. Big announcement as @edballsmp makes clear that the next labour govt will significantly empower the green investment bank #UKinfra
  61. He also set out his view in a New Statesman piece to coincide with our event:
  62. Discussion followed:
  63. "When you compare Green Deal to German equivalent, it is not hard to see why it is not working" says @edballsmp #ukinfra
  64. No of ppl taken up 1% energy efficiency loans from German green bank: 358,000 last year. No of UK Green Deal sign ups: 4 #ukinfra
  65. No progress on zero carbon homes and the green deal has been a failure claims @edballsmp #UKinfra 
  66. Coalition Government 'ducking the challenge of leadership on low carbon technology' says @edballsmp in #ukinfra speech
  67. UK can lead the low carbon energy race, says Balls.
  68. MT @NickMolho .@edballsmp: Britain led industrial revolution & has ingenuity to lead the clean energy race #renewables #UKinfra #EnergyBill
  69. Wolf discussed the Treasury's short term management and how it slashes long term investment.
  70. Martin Wolff: Treasury was set up to focus on short term management of public purse, doesn't go well with long-term investments #UKinfra
  71. "We have the @hmtreasury this country has asked for: short term focused" says @martinwolf_ #ukinfra "In crisis they cut investment"
  72. Martin Wolf: Politically easy to cut infrastructure. Terrible thing to do, but easy. Problem is HMT ministers, not HMT itself. #UKinfra
  73. Change in Treasury orthodoxy to address the long term requires much stronger political consensus on big issues says @edballsmp #UKinfra 
  74. Crippling Treasury short termism: the person in number 11 matters, says @edballsmp, implying he'd be a new broom #ukinfra
  75. Q&A followed
  76. Question from Prof Mariana Mazzucato
    Question from Prof Mariana Mazzucato
  77. On being asked to be more specific on EU climate package and efficiency directive, Balls stated that Labour would support new EU renewable energyand energy efficiency targets for 2030.
  78. @Spencerthink asks @edballsmp to get specific on how Labour would work in Europe on climate package and efficiency directive. #UKinfra
  79. Yes, Labour supports 2030 EU renewables & energy efficiency targets, says @edballsmp #UKinfra
  80. More policy news: Balls says that Labour will support 2030 renewable energy & efficiency targets in new EU package #ukinfra
  81. "There is clear public support for low carbon agenda" says @edballsmp #ukinfra "and we should be collaborating with EU partners"
  82. Balls asked does Labour support EU renewables and efficiency targets? Answer 'yes'. Big commitment.
  83. Balls on why Osborne turned against green- "Maybe he's been mixing with the wrong people?" Says he's a bit tea party #ukinfra
  84. Institutions as important as policy says @edballsmp in probably most perceptive point in #ukinfra. @theCCCuk all we currently have.
  85. Want to know more?
    Read some of the coverage of this event and the low carbon infrastructure story: