Alice Macdonald 

June 5 is World Environment Day - an annual day which encourages awareness and action for the protection of the environment.

Protecting our environment is not only vital for the future of our planet but for the future of our economy.  We are on the brink of vast opportunity; the biggest transformation of the global economy in 300 years through harnessing green growth.  

To inspire action, we need a positive vision of what a fairer, greener Britain could look like.

A shared vision that Norwich and Norfolk are well-placed to lead on due to our unique geography, our farming innovation and our world-renowned expertise in climate science. 

In my day job as a charity campaigner, addressing the urgency of climate change is a key part of my work.

I believe that creating new, good-quality jobs in the green economy is the economic opportunity of the 21st century.

An opportunity that the people of Norwich and Norfolk will benefit from but only with the right leadership and the right plan in place. 

Our unique landscape gives us an advantage. Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, Ed Miliband said: “Our island status gives us a unique position.

"The vast shallow waters of the North Sea make larger, cheaper, fixed off-shore wind possible across hundreds of square miles of water. This abundant renewable power, which our geography supports, can be funnelled through electrolysers to make green hydrogen”.  

The East of England could be the region to lead the UK’s transition to renewable energy.

A recent report notes that 44% of the UK’s offshore wind power is produced off the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk, with the region containing 46% of the UK’s wind turbine fleet.  

Our strength lies not just in our unique landscape but also our expertise in climate science.

The University of East Anglia, pioneered study in this area, today, it is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading institutions in the field. 

On our doorstep a vibrant community of researchers and scientists are providing the knowledge needed as we respond to climate change.

Norwich Research Park is one of the largest campuses of its kind in Europe.

Headquartered at UEA the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research does vital work towards a sustainable future.

The centre works at the global and local level for instance their research shows how global warming impacts coastal erosion, with higher tides meaning seawater pushes further into the Norfolk Broads, killing freshwater fish and damaging the ecosystem of our much-loved waterways.  

Norfolk farmers are at the forefront of innovation. A £25m project to create the ‘world’s largest vertical farm’ just outside Norwich will bring new jobs to our city.

When fully operational the climate-controlled building, based in Easton, will be powered by 100pc renewable energy and much less water than traditional cultivation.

It will have the capacity to supply 6.5 tonnes of leaf salad, lettuce and other fresh products to UK supermarkets all year round. 

There is more farming innovation at Gorgate Farm, which has grown blackcurrants for Ribena since the 1950s.  

In the last month it has launched a new project - with UEA - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project will test and amplify the benefits of regenerative agricultural intervention.

It shows what is possible when Norwich and Norfolk’s strengths in research and farming innovation come together.

This can only be unlocked with national action and investment. That’s why Labour has put green growth at the heart of our economic plans.  

Our Green Prosperity Plan will seize the opportunities of a low carbon and digital economy, and establish Great British Energy, a new publicly owned company that will create good, secure, well-paid British jobs.  

I want to make sure that those jobs come to Norwich North and to Norfolk.  Our region already contains over 4,000 businesses with more than 35,000 employees in the energy and low carbon sectors.

Those numbers can be significantly expanded but only with a government that recognises the opportunity.

As Norfolk County Council noted in evidence to a Parliament Select Committee looking at 'levelling-up', "Without Government-funded incentives, a significant proportion of Norfolk’s growth potential will not be achieved, as critical employment space to accommodate the fast-growing sectors such as clean energy and high-value manufacturing will not be brought forward by the market”.

This underlines the need for a proper regional  green growth strategy shaped by people in the communities it must serve. 

Vital to this, in the East of England is building skills in sectors including agri-tech, renewable energy and construction.

To secure the jobs that are essential for our economy and for the future of our young people, we need a proper skills strategy built and delivered locally. Labour’s ‘Take Back Control Act’ would support this; giving local leaders the powers needed. 

The opportunity - and the urgency - of the transition to a green economy is key and  is one of our five bold missions for government as outlined by Keir Starmer earlier this year.  

We’ve been clear; we’d cut energy bills, oppose fracking and create a new National Wealth Fund to invest in clean steel plants, renewable-ready ports, green hydrogen and carbon capture. 

If I was elected as the Labour MP for Norwich North, making sure we are at the heart of the green growth we need as a region and country would be my mission too. 

Alice Macdonald is Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Norwich North