The government should prioritise green jobs to help the economy recover from coronavirus, the shadow business secretary has said.
Labour’s Ed Miliband said helping firms retrain staff could create a “huge number” of climate-friendly jobs.
He added that ministers should also consider taking a stake in Virgin Atlantic, if the airline agrees to “go green”.
The prime minister says he also wants a greener post-coronavirus economy.
Labour’s demand for green jobs to feature heavily in economic recovery plans follows similar calls this week from more than 200 top UK firms and investors.
The party is seeking views from businesses, unions, and campaign groups on how climate-friendly industries can help repair the economy.
Mr Miliband said the “rapid consultation” would seek views on action that could be taken now to “kick start a green recovery”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said “action on green jobs” could help prevent mass unemployment in the wake of the virus.
“We’ve seen some terrible redundancies already, for example at Rolls Royce – those workers can work in the green industries in the future,” he said.
“Our manufacturers are really struggling in this crisis – many of them want to go green, whether it’s in aerospace, or in steel”.
“I want to see the government advancing the help that is already planned but needs to be brought forward for them”.
He suggested the requirement to insulate homes, plant more trees and install electric car charging points as examples of where new jobs could be found.
The also said the government needed to do more to help industries that have seen greater disruption as a result of the pandemic – and said ministers had been “too slow to help the aviation sector”.
He suggested ministers should be willing to take a stake in Virgin Atlantic, the airline owned by Sir Richard Branson, who is based in the British Virgin Islands.
Sir Richard has previously pledged his luxury island resort as collateral to secure a commercial loan from the UK government for the firm, which has been hit hard by lockdowns and travel bans.
“Take Richard Branson for example – what would I be saying to Richard Branson?
I would be saying ‘come back onshore, take your company out of the tax haven, we’ll look at, for example an equity stake in Virgin if it makes financial sense – but only on the condition that you go green.”
‘Build back better’
The UK government has already indicated that protecting the environment will feature heavily in any stimulus package.
Back in April, Boris Johnson said a post-Covid-19 recovery plan should include efforts to “turn the tide on climate change”.
Speaking to MPs in May, he also insisted the UK’s desire to cut carbon emissions “remains undiminished” by the current crisis.
In the same month, he added: “We owe it to future generations to build back better and base our recovery on solid foundations, including a fairer, greener and more resilient global economy”.