Miliband told to put sustainability in schools

Labour should commit to including sustainable development in the national curriculum, a senior backbencher has said.

The call from Joan Walley, who chairs the Commons' environmental audit committee, comes as the opposition party draws up its policy on green issues ahead of next year's general election.

Walley has been working with Keele University, where chancellor and green champion Jonathan Porritt is introducing a sustainable development core discipline in each subject.

"But what's the point of having that at university if it's not seamless back through college and back through secondary school?" she told

Walley said she wanted to see other MPs speak out and call for action.

"Independent MPs, hopefully spurred on by their concerned constituents, can be using the processes within their own political parties to press for manifesto commitments to actually embed policies that go further on tackling climate change and on valuing natural capital," she added.

Her proposal is the latest call from green groups calling on Ed Miliband to adopt a bold set of policies going into next year's general election campaign, which is now less than a year away.

The Global Sustainability Institute and the Green New Deal Group were among the think-tanks and pressure groups which signed a letter to the Guardian warning the Labour leader not to "play the next election safe".

But it remains far from clear whether Miliband and his strategists will accept embracing radical green policies will prove popular with voters, given the associated short-term increase in energy bills.

Some Labour backbenchers are already voicing their frustration.

"I think Ed is someone who chews the cud for a long time, goes away and comes to a conclusion," one veteran left-wing MP told

"And because the Labour party is no longer really a democratic party in the sense that all power has been sacrificed to the leader, that's what it is.

"These things don't add up to a thread. We need a commanding narrative which is going to persuade our voters – they're just fed up that they don't feel the Labour party is strongly enough supporting their interests, and I think they're right."

Labour has set up a living standards and sustainability policy commission whose findings will be debated and agreed by the party's national policy forum in July. They will then be formally adopted as party policy at Labour's autumn conference.

The commission's consultation places "ensuring long-term sustainable development" in a group of related issues including transport, energy, water, 'supporting rural communities' and the natural environment.