Labour: tackling climate change is an "economic necessity"

13th April 2015

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Peter Coe

A Labour government would expand the role of the international development department to mitigate the risks of climate change, according to the party's manifesto, launched today.

The manifesto states that the fight against climate change is “an economic necessity” and “the most important thing we must do for our children, our grandchildren and future generations”.

The party also pledges an “ambitious adaptation programme”, while a new independent infrastructure commission would prioritise investment in flood prevention.

The manifesto outlines the party’s position on the climate change negotiations in Paris in December. This includes making the case for ambitious emissions targets for all countries, which should be strengthened every five years according to a scientific assessment of progress towards keeping temperature rises below 2ºC.

Labour would push for a global goal of net zero emissions after 2050, and for transparent and universal rules for measuring, verifying and reporting emissions, the manifesto says. Richer countries should provide support to poorer nations in combatting climate change, it adds.

On energy, the party says it will create an energy security board to plan and deliver the right mix of renewables, nuclear, gas, carbon capture and storage and “clean” coal. No fracking of onshore oil and gas could take place until a strong environmental and regulatory regime is in place, the manifesto states.

The party would undertake a major push on energy efficiency, delivering a million interest free loans for energy home improvements over the next parliament, and improving the efficiency of 200,000 homes every year of those on low incomes. The programme would be delivered street-by-street by local authorities and community organisations. Privately rented properties will have to meet a decency standard on energy efficiency, it adds.

There was no mention of support for the idea of establishing an office for resource management (ORM) to lead work on resource efficiency and the circular economy. In March, shadow environment minister Barry Gardiner said that a Labour announcement in favour of the idea was due imminently.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of manufacturers’ body EEF, which has been leading a campaign for the new government unit, said: “Whilst Labour have announced they will conduct a raw material supply review and have made supportive comments about establishing an ORM, we are disappointed this has not yet been converted into a meaningful commitment in their manifesto.”

Committing to do so would not only bring the UK into line with other manufacturing nations, but would secure broad support from manufacturers, he said.

Other environmental pledges made in the manifesto include:

  • Making Britain a world leader in low carbon technologies, creating one million additional “green” jobs over the next 10 years.
  • Creating a timetable for the Green Investment Bank to be given extra investment powers.
  • Giving local authorities additional powers to deal with air pollution, backed by a national framework.
  • Promoting access to green space through the local planning system, keeping forests in public ownership and supporting the work of the Natural Capital Committee.
  • Improving and expanding rail links across the north of the country to boost regional economies and supporting the construction of HS2.
  • Making a “swift decision” after the Davies independent airports review reports on expanding airport capacity in London and the south east.
  • Requiring all water companies to sign up to a new affordability scheme to help people benefit from social tariffs. Labour says it would strengthen Ofwat’s powers so it can change licenses, limit price rises and enforce industry standards.


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