Britain must "put the foot down on the accelerator" in developing renewable energy, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said today.
The statement comes as he prepared to launch a new government strategy for offshore wind power alongside Energy Secretary Ed Davey in Grimsby tomorrow, which he said will set out plans to help make Britain "the cutting-edge green economy in the world”.
Clegg compared climate change sceptics who oppose windfarms and other renewable energy developments to the Luddites who smashed machinery during the Industrial Revolution. He also took a swipe at Tory colleagues in the coalition government, saying "their rhetoric, having been very pro-green before the election, is certainly not the same now".
Speaking at a Westminster press conference, he said: "Ed Davey and I will be in Grimsby tomorrow to open a new offshore wind farm, which will create significant new jobs in that area.
"The visit will highlight something which I think is a huge asset for us as a country. We have seen record-breaking levels of investment in renewables in our country. We have installed more onshore wind than the rest of the world put together.
“We have a great engineering and manufacturing heritage to draw on and we have huge natural resources, which allow us to lead in the global race to become the cutting-edge green economy in the world.
"Not everyone agrees, of course. The Industrial Revolution had its Luddites, we have sceptics who still insist if you are pro-green you are somehow anti-growth.
"I can't disagree more. If you really want to win the global race, why on Earth would you sacrifice pole position, which is exactly where we are? I believe it is much better for us to put the foot down on the accelerator and stay ahead in the global green race."
He added: "It is a sector, the green economy, which has the potential to create 30,000 jobs and contribute a further £7bn to the economy by the end of this decade. That is a success I want to see us exploit fully in the months and years ahead.
“In the new economy, green jobs are one of the great opportunities for us. Green energy is actually a global boom market at the moment, worth about £3.4tr. The green hi-tech sector posted some of the best growth rates of any sector of the British economy last year: about 4.8 per cent compared to the previous year.
"I think, instead of looking at this as a threat, we should look at this as a massive growth and jobs opportunity.
“I think hijacking an opportunity which is waiting there for British leadership with a separate ideological debate about whether you do or don't believe what climate change scientists say is fiddling on the sidelines when you could be getting on with creating more jobs."