Labour has promised to spend an extra £28bn a year on making the UK economy more “green” if it wins power.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the money would go on offshore wind farms, planting trees and developing batteries.
In her speech to Labour’s annual conference in Brighton, she also pledged to phase out business rates to help the Covid-damaged High Street.
And she said giant tech firms would pay more tax in future.
An aide to Ms Reeves told the BBC the £28bn would come from government borrowing and the investment should “have a positive impact” on the wider economy.
In her speech, Ms Reeves said: “I will be a responsible chancellor. I will be Britain’s first green chancellor.”
She added: “I will invest in good jobs in the green industries of the future, giga-factories to build batteries for electric vehicles, a thriving hydrogen industry, offshore wind with turbines made in Britain, planting trees and building flood defences, keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down, good new jobs in communities throughout Britain.”
Rachel Reeves is the shadow chancellor with something for everyone.
For the Labour Party activists crying out for ambitious pledges following a series of lukewarm announcements there was £28bn a year of investment to help the UK reach its climate targets.
She also went after some of the most potent symbols for party members: private schools and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon (“if you can afford to fly to the moon, you can afford to pay your taxes here on earth!”)
For the business community there was a promise to axe business rates and replace the £30bn of revenue with… something.
For those who thought it was all a bit too much she unveiled some fiscal rules that could lightly limit her room to spend and borrow, and a new value for money “hit squad” that would scrutinise government spending.
She has also upped her speech game significantly, introducing a group of keyworkers in the front row to rapturous applause and lowering her voice dramatically to deliver her soundbites.
Ms Reeves said the annual £28bn investment – which would continue until 2030 – would help “protect our planet for future generations”.
It would include the £3bn shadow business secretary Ed Miliband promised to help make the UK steel industry carbon-neutral in his conference speech on Sunday.
Labour is expected to make a series of announcements on where the rest of the money would go.
Greenpeace UK welcomed the overall spending pledge, with its head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, saying: “Tackling the climate crisis has to be at the heart of what the Treasury does.”
The independent Climate Change Committee estimates the cost of making the UK carbon-neutral will be between 1% and 2% of GDP until 2050. Based on last year’s figures, that would equate to between £19.6bn and £39.2bn a year.
During her half-hour speech, Ms Reeves said a Labour government would freeze business rates in England until 2023 and make rates relief for smaller firms more generous.
It would eventually scrap rates completely, she said, replacing them with a new “modern” business tax, which the party is yet to define.
Labour is also proposing a new tax on commercial property.
And it is proposing to increase the digital services tax – paid by search engines and social media firms – from 2% to 12%, when it is replaced by a higher global corporation tax rate agreed as part of an international scheme.
Ms Reeves told the conference the party would bring in the “biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation”, allowing businesses to “lead the pack, not watch opportunities go elsewhere.”
She announced plans to scrap “hundreds” of tax breaks and set up an Office of Value for Money, which aides describe as a “hit squad” to scrutinise government spending and ensure tax is used wisely.
Ms Reeves said a Labour government would tell firms which have received contracts to deal with the Covid pandemic but under-delivered to repay the money given to them by the government.
“We will set up a team to go through every line of every failed contract where value was not delivered, and claw back every penny of taxpayers’ money we possibly can,” she added, “because that money belongs in our police, it belongs in our schools and it belongs in our NHS.”
The policies announced by Ms Reeves were welcomed by the Federation for Small Businesses, whose national chair Mike Cherry said: “The shadow chancellor is right to propose concrete reform of a business rates tax which disproportionately burdens the small businesses and sole traders at the heart of local communities.”
But Conservative Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden said: “Successive Labour leaders have threatened businesses with tax hikes, higher bills, and more red tape.
“Only the Conservatives can be trusted to support our businesses and help our economy thrive as we build back better.”