Miliband outlines ‘post-oil’ future

The environment secretary David Miliband will today outline the case for a post-oil economy, arguing that the UK needs to move away from “oil dependence”.

Addressing a public audience at the University of Cambridge this evening, Mr Miliband will argue the need for a low carbon economy involving radical cuts in emissions. This would involve new technologies, ranging from biofuels to carbon capture at coal power stations.

“Al Gore says climate change is a planetary emergency. It is,” he will say.

“But it is more than that. It is a humanitarian emergency – a threat to the security and survival of people, not just nature.

“The time is right to look at what it would mean for the UK over the period of 15 to 20 years to create a post-oil economy – a declaration less of ‘oil independence’ and more the end of oil dependence.”

The environment secretary will argue the need for political leadership at local, national and European level to build a radical political consensus.

Carrying on with “business as usual” would result in “catastrophic consequences” he will warn, with greenhouse gases forecast to increase “dramatically” as global population and wealth rises.

Mr Miliband is speaking ahead of the publication of the draft climate change bill, expected next week.

Today, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs launched a UK government sustainable procurement action plan, designed to ensure supply chains and public service procurement move towards an environmentally friendly policy.

Mr Miliband said: “Public sector purchasing power must be harnessed to transform the market for innovative and sustainable solutions to make them more widely available and affordable to others.

“Procurement is key in tackling climate change and as a government we must do more and practise what we preach in terms of tackling climate change.”

Last week, a report warned the government will miss its target of reducing carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.

Commenting the Lib Dem environment spokesman Chris Huhne today called on the government to meets its targets “rather than just congratulating itself for setting them”.

He argued: “The next budget must tackle emissions from cars and planes through a green tax switch that shifts the tax burden from people onto pollution.

“The government also has a gaping hole in its climate change strategy due to its failure to tackle emissions from homes and offices.”