Meet the new boss

29th September 2015

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  • Politics & Economics ,
  • England ,
  • UK - Devolved Governments, Overseas Territories


Jessica Holland

Jeremy Corbyn's pledges on the environment appear promising so far, says Paul Suff.

Whether Jeremy Corbyn's landslide victory in the Labour leadership election will be followed by similar success at the 2020 general election remains to be seen, but it is worth examining whether he is offering anything new or different in terms of environment and sustainability policy. An effective and coherent opposition is vital now that the government seems intent on ending all support for clean energy and measures to reduce energy consumption.

Corbyn's Protecting our planet manifesto contains eight priorities, including creating a green, resource-efficient economy; tackling poor air quality in UK cities and committing to a full independent public inquiry into levels of air pollution; and providing international leadership on climate change, socialising energy supply and ending an era of fossil fuels. He also talks about an environment, where people and nature thrive together and where ecosystems and wildlife habitats are protected.

The new Labour leader promises a radical restructuring of what he describes as Britain's dated, inefficient and polluting energy market by encouraging more decentralised supply and greater choice. He pledges to take action to keep fossil fuels in the ground by ending subsidies, banning fracking and setting a target date to end new fossil fuel extraction.

Electricity should be carbon-free by 2030 and a Labour government would create a National Investment Bank with borrowing powers to boost the green economy. Zero-carbon homes must become the norm, not the exception, Corbyn says, and all new buildings must comply with higher energy efficiency standards. He also wants to end the outsourcing of pollution and emissions to countries with less stringent environmental enforcement by introducing global standards.

Environmentalists will welcome many of these proposals, and should encourage Corbyn to make the case for them regularly over the next five years. Indeed, environmentalists could take advantage of Corbyn's willingness to pose questions submitted by the public to David Cameron to air their concerns about the direction of government policy.

The prime minister disclosed recently that one his favourite children's books is The Lorax by Dr Seuss because of its important message: "If we spoil the environment, through pointless consumption and a disregard for how we produce things, we not only damage other creatures, we wreck our own lives and prospects and those of our children." If his policy statement on the environment is anything to go by, Corbyn appears to largely get that message. Of course, Cameron professed a similar understanding in opposition of the importance of the environment, but seems to have mostly forgotten it in office.


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