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British PM Pitches “Green Industrial Revolution” as Economic Accelerator

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson touts 12 billion pound “green industrial revolution” to create jobs through environmental initiatives
  • Proposal includes investments in offshore wind and hydrogen, with a goal of bringing the United Kingdom to net-zero emissions
  • Critics say the plan offers little in new spending on green initiatives and doesn’t do enough to incentivize investments in clean energy

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined a “green industrial revolution” plan intended to both promote environmental sustainability in the United Kingdom and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. The proposal has earned some praise for aggressive goals such as the phasing out of new gas and diesel vehicles, but critics say it is not a serious commitment to supporting a green economy.

Johnson says the 12 billion pound ($15.9 billion) plan will help fight climate change, create 250,000 jobs, and help revitalize Britain’s former industrial strongholds. It includes the goals of phasing out gas and diesel vehicles by 2030 (although some hybrids will be permitted until 2035), replacing 600,000 home heating systems with more efficient options by 2028, and bringing the nation to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Under the 10-point plan, the government will back investments in hydrogen and wind energy, large- and small-scale nuclear reactors, and electric vehicles. Offshore wind in particular would receive a boost, quadrupling to 40 gigawatts of energy production and supporting an estimated 60,000 jobs. Other points include carbon capture initiatives, tree planting efforts, and the decarbonization of more energy-intensive industries like shipping and aviation.

The announcement is seen in part as an effort by Johnson to establish a friendly relationship with President-elect Joe Biden of the United States. Biden has promised that the U.S. will rejoin the Paris Agreement after his inauguration, and has also set a goal of bringing the nation to net-zero by 2050.

Critics have assailed Johnson’s plan as insufficient, pointing out that it contains only 4 billion pounds of new spending and is less ambitious than initiatives outlined by other European nations such as France and Germany. A Labor leader noted that the party had called for a 30 billion pound investment over 18 months with the goal of establishing 400,000 jobs.

The plan has also been criticized for banking on hydrogen, which some analysts say may not be a reliable option for widespread adoption. In addition, critics say Johnson’s proposal does not do enough to encourage businesses to invest in clean energy jobs.

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