Labour’s Green Agenda

Recently the Guardian published an article exploring the green credentials of current MPs, examining politicians’ record on 16 key climate related votes between 2008 and 2018. The results were illuminating; predictably the Conservative party did not come out well with a clear split showing between the two parties records.

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More damning, current Tory leader Boris Johnson scored 0% having been present for just five of the votes and voted in favour of the environmentally beneficial option a grand total of zero times. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson faired a little better, present for eight out of the 16 votes (unlike Johnson who was only returned to parliament in 2015) but sadly voted in an environmentally positive way in just four of them – scoring an underwhelming 50%.

But what of Jeremy Corbyn? Under his stewardship Labour have been increasingly vocal in support of a green agenda, urging MPs to stand in solidarity with climate protesters and tabling a motion which forced the government to make the UK the first country to declare a climate emergency (Although it should be noted that the devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales had already done so). In the Guardian’s analysis Corbyn scored a stonking 92% – voting positively in 12 out of 13 votes attended.

Labour have made a string of policy announcements recently described as ‘A Green New Deal’ or ‘A Green Industrial Revolution’, but what are the policies that Labour propose to try and meet the challenge of climate change?

The precise form of Labour’s 2019 manifesto is still to be decided but it will contain a number of policies already published, and will be heavily informed by the Green New Deal adopted at the 2019 Labour Party conference. Labour’s much derided army of grass roots activists overwhelmingly voted for a program that calls for:

  • A commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2030,
  • The rapid phase out of fossil fuels,
  • Large-scale investment in renewable energy,
  • A just transition to well-paid, unionised, green jobs,
  • Expanding public, democratic ownership,
  • Green public integrated transport,
  • Support for developing countries’ climate transitions, and
  • Assuring everyone’s basic rights through the provision of universal services.

It is a radical policy platform that both recognises the scale of the challenge ahead of us and understands that climate change is at it’s heart a class issue. The least privileged in our own nations and around the world inevitably bear the brunt of the worst effects.

And now to the policies already announced? So far labour have committed to policies including:

  • A national network of electric charging points costing £3.4bn,
  • Interest-free loans for electric car buyers with the aim of making 2/3 of vehicleson the road electric by 2030,
  • Home insulation and solar panels installed free for more than a million people in low-income and social housing,
  • A complete ban on fracking,
  • A new clean air act,
  • Investment in renewable energy to ensure almost all energy and heat comes from low carbon sources by 2030,
  • Including 37 new offshore windfarms creating 70,000 new jobs and a fivefold increase in wind energy, and
  • A 51% public stake in all new windfarms with profits for the tax payer divided up – 20% invested into coastal communities and 80% reinvested into decarbonising the economy and tackling climate change.

On the economic side, John McDonnell has proposed that the Bank of England will be given powers to monitor how businesses are working to reduce carbon emissions. Alongside this a National Investment Bank will be established to work alongside regional development banks tasked with advancing the green jobs agenda, and the treasury rulebook will be rewritten to require civil servants to consider the green credentials of government spending plans in the future.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is advancing policies that would not lookout of place in a Green Party manifesto;the British public can rest assured that this will be a government committed to meeting the challenge that lies before us. This is not a David Cameron style “Cut out all the green crap” grab for the votes of the environmentally conscious. The leader of the party has set the standardpersonally,and is well known forembracing a lifestyle of cycling, vegetarianism, and public transport usage and the membership have rallied. Our 2019 manifesto will represent a radical, ambitious program that will transform the way the UK approaches the climate crisis and we are proud that Labour, building on the legacy of the Green Party; the sacrifices of climate activists; and the amazing work of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion; are stepping up to join them in the fight against climate change.

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