Friends Of The Earth Hail Miliband Greenest Labour Leader

The press may have already dubbed him "Red Ed", but environmental groups are today hoping that the new Labour leader Ed Miliband will quickly earn himself a different coloured moniker as "Green Ed".

The former Energy and Climate Change Secretary failed to make environmental policy a central part of his leadership campaign, but has launched repeated attacks on the coalition's green record over the past few months and is widely expected to establish support for environmental issues as a key component of his leadership.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper earlier this month, Miliband reiterated his belief that "climate change is the greatest global threat facing our generation ", adding that "it should be at the very heart of our plan for a successful economy, at the centre of our foreign policy and integral to our mission to change Britain".

He also attacked Prime Minister David Cameron's climate change record, alleging that he has been "completely silent on the issue" and decided not to co-chair the key UN advisory group on climate financing that his predecessor, Gordon Brown, had co-chaired.

Miliband is unlikely to oppose all of the coalition's green policies, particularly given that several measures, such as the Green Deal home loan scheme and plans for new nuclear power plants, were also backed by Labour at the last election.

However, in recent weeks he has outlined a number of areas where he is likely to put pressure on the coalition, urging his successor Chris Huhne to ensure the feed-in tariff and proposed Renewable Heat Incentive are protected from the Treasury spending review, calling on George Osborne to approve plans for a £60m programme of port upgrades to support the offshore wind industry, and arguing that the planned new Green Investment Bank must be adequately financed.

He is also widely expected to make the case for a more interventionist low carbon industrial policy, having fiercely criticised the coalition for its decision to axe the £80m loan offered by the Labour government to nuclear industry components specialist Sheffield Forgemasters.

Friends of the Earth's executive director, Andy Atkins, this weekend congratulated the younger Miliband on his narrow victory over his brother David, hailing him as the "the greenest leader of the party to date".

"Ed Miliband genuinely understands that tackling global warming is essential and he was a key figure in the development and passing of the UK's ground-breaking Climate Change Act," he said. "With a new Energy Bill on the way, he will have an early chance to establish Labour as a constructive opposition on climate change, ready to challenge the coalition to implement ambitious carbon-cutting policies."

Attention will now turn to Ed Miliband's first keynote speech to the Labour Party Conference as leader tomorrow, as well as the battle for shadow cabinet positions.

It is unclear who will take up the key post as Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, however, former environment secretary Hilary Benn is tipped for a top job after becoming one of the first senior figures to back Ed Miliband.

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