Alexander Stafford is the Member of Parliament for Rother Valley and provided a foreword to the Centre for Policy Studies’ recent report, Levelling Up and Zeroing In.

As an MP who managed to break into the Red Wall at the last election, one Government announcement I am more keenly awaiting than most will come early in the year. The Levelling Up White Paper should soon be published – setting out in detail the Government’s plan to restore civic pride and economic opportunities to parts of the country which have been neglected for decades.

This document will cut across many different policy areas, but one where the overlap will be most apparent is with regards to the Government’s clean growth agenda.

Make no mistake, decarbonising the economy will pose certain challenges, with some of these felt most acutely in exactly the parts of the country where we need to be focusing our attention. Carbon intensive industries – from steelmaking to heavy manufacturing – make up a higher proportion of employment outside of the affluent South East, so are in theory at a greater risk from the need to cut our emissions to Net Zero by 2050.

But on the other side of the same coin, decarbonisation offers immense opportunities to revitalise our country’s industrial heartlands. As we seek to meet targets such as producing 40 gigawatts of power from offshore wind by 2030, money is already flooding into manufacturing hubs in Yorkshire and the North East. Meanwhile, demand for electric vehicles has ensured jobs in the automotive sector remain in parts of the Midlands and North West. The benefits of this fresh investment, employment, and growth accrue to precisely those communities the Government rightly wants to level up.

Let us not also forget that Britain is far from being the only country to embark on a Net Zero journey. Even before we hosted COP26 in Glasgow last year, fully 78 per cent of the global economy was signed up to reach Net Zero by the middle of this century. All of that ambition spells enormous opportunity for countries which specialise in clean goods and services – and Britain should be at the forefront of providing them.

Maintaining our position as a world leader in this endeavour won’t be easy. It will require careful and considered thought, especially if the shift to a Net Zero economy is to simultaneously bolster the levelling up agenda – as I firmly believe it will.

To that end, I was delighted to provide a foreword to a new report from the Centre for Policy Studies which offers a handful of ideas on how to do exactly that. The report’s authors correctly understand that by embracing a pro-enterprise, market-based approach to decarbonisation, the country can indeed meet its climate goals and level up opportunities across the board.

A key focus is placed on the role new and better technologies will play, which cut emissions without cutting living standards. This condition has always been important, and only more so given the cost-of-living pressures which we’re experiencing (thanks mainly to surging international fossil fuel prices). Some have suggested that, given rising prices, we cannot afford to drive ahead with decarbonisation policies – but the Net Zero agenda can solve, not exacerbate, those problems, by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

New green technologies will be integral to ensuring that the push for Net Zero ultimately puts downward pressure on the cost-of-living, instead of hiking it further. Ensuring that investment can flow into research and development of these will be essential, so the Government must maintain its support here, as well as examining how to leverage in more private finance in innovation.

The authors also look at the role our tax system could play in promoting decarbonisation and levelling up. As we shift to low-carbon production methods, new investment in equipment and factories will need to be made to replace their higher-carbon equivalents – and the last thing we want to be doing is penalising manufacturing and industrial businesses who want to take that step.

Last year, the Treasury unveiled the brilliant “super deduction”, which allows firms to write off such investments against their tax bill, but this is due to expire in 2023. It should be extended beyond this date at the reduced rate of 100 per cent – a policy known as “full expensing” – to ensure businesses are not disincentivised to invest in cleaner capital, while also serving as a shot in the arm for business competitiveness, levelling up, and Net Zero.

The Levelling Up White Paper will have significant consequences for numerous policy areas, especially decarbonisation. From what we’ve heard from the Government so far, I’m confident it will recognise how the two agendas are intrinsically linked. With the right policy choices, both levelling up and climate action can be mutually reinforcing ambitions which pay dividends for Red Wall constituencies like mine.