Ed Miliband said ministers should not be allowed to rest on their laurels
Ed Miliband has said he would welcome being criticised for not pushing the climate change agenda hard enough as public pressure on the issue is vital.
In a speech to the Environment Agency, the new climate change secretary said ministers need to "pick up the pace" to ensure environmental goals were met.
Popular pressure must be exerted on decision makers to ensure progress on cutting emissions was made, he argued.
He also disputed claims the recession meant green issues were now secondary.
Environmental sustainability and economic growth were compatible, he said, while investment in renewable industries was vital to ensuring a "green upturn" for the economy.
Former Labour cabinet minister Lord Smith, now Environment Agency chairman, has called for a "green new deal" to boost the economy.
Since being chosen to head a new climate change department, Mr Miliband has won plaudits for announcing an increase in the government's emission reduction targets and agreeing to include aviation emissions in carbon budgeting calculations.
But he said he was more aware than ever of the "scale of the challenge" faced in tackling climate change.
"We need to pick up the pace even on what we have achieved."
Priorities should include enhancing the public sector's role in delivering renewable energy projects and increasing employment in growing sectors such as offshore wind.
But he said progress could only be achieved if public support for green measures was sustained in the face of a recession and existing commitments not abandoned.
"Our job is not just to get the policy right but to persuade people to come with us," he said.
"That means we need to show it is possible to be for growth, for fairness and for tackling climate change."
He confirmed the government would be producing a strategy for creating so-called "green collar" industrial jobs early next year.
And he said he would not flinch from criticism about his performance.
"Part of my job is to be criticised for not doing enough. That is as it should be. Utopians, agitators, those who think we haven't gone far enough are a crucial part of securing change."