Election watch (5) – Labour manifesto

Here are my first thoughts on the Labour manifesto – it’s a large document but fairly easy to read. What follows is a series of quotes from the manifesto (in order and with a reference to the section in which they appear) and then I make some remarks about it at the foot of this blog post. I’m only looking at environmental issues – obviously there is a lot more to the manifesto than the environment.

Some people say this is the Brexit election. But it’s also the climate election, the investment election, the NHS election, the living standards election, the education election, the poverty election, the fair taxes election. Above all, it’s the change election.

Foreword – 2nd para

We will kick-start a Green Industrial Revolution to tackle the climate emergency by shifting to renewable energy, investing in rail and electric cars, and making housing energy- efficient, to reduce fuel poverty and excess winter deaths.

Foreword

This election is about the crisis of living standards and the climate and environmental emergency. Whether we are ready or not, we stand on the brink of unstoppable change.

We must confront this change while dealing with the growing inequality and insecurity in Britain. Labour led the UK Parliament in declaring a climate and environmental emergency. The next Labour government will lead the world in fighting it, with a plan to drive up living standards by transforming our economy into one low in carbon, rich in good jobs, radically fairer and more democratic.

The climate crisis ties us all into a common fate. This election is our best hope to protect future generations from an uninhabitable planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said we need to cut global emissions in half by 2030 to have a chance of keeping global heating within safe limits – that means acting now, and acting decisively.

The Tories wasted a decade serving the interests of big polluters. Labour will use the crucial next decade to act. The Tories slashed support for renewable energy while pushing through dangerous fracking.

A Green industrial revolution. Economy and Energy

The cost of not acting is far greater than the cost of acting.

A Green industrial revolution. Economy and Energy

Just 100 companies globally are responsible for the majority of carbon emissions. We won’t be afraid to tackle this wanton corporate destruction by taking on the powerful interests that are causing climate change. We will change the criteria a company must meet to be listed on the London Stock Exchange so that any company that fails to contribute to tackling the climate and environmental emergency is delisted

A Green industrial revolution. Economy and Energy

We will build: 7,000 new offshore wind turbines; 2,000 new onshore wind turbines; Enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches; new nuclear power needed for energy security.

A Green industrial revolution. Economy and Energy

From the depletion of fish stocks to the burning of the Amazon, profit has proved a poor regulator for use of our natural resources.

Whether it is the trillions of litres of water lost through leakages, barriers to renewable energy connecting to the grid or the billions of pounds of bill-payers’ money being siphoned off in dividends to wealthy shareholders, Tory privatisation of our utilities has been a disaster for both our planet and our wallets.

We will put people and planet before profit by bringing our energy and water systems into democratic public ownership. In public hands, energy and water will be treated as rights rather than commodities, with any surplus reinvested or used to reduce bills. Communities themselves will decide, because utilities won’t be run from Whitehall but by service-users and workers.

Public ownership will secure democratic control over nationally strategic infrastructure and provide collective stewardship for key natural resources.

A Green industrial revolution. Economy and Energy

Labour will take full responsibility for our carbon footprint instead of passing the buck. We will instruct the Committee on Climate Change to assess the emissions the UK imports as well as those it produces, and recommend policies to tackle them, including making UK industry the greenest in the world.

A Green industrial revolution. Economy and Energy

A Labour government’s Green Industrial Revolution is complemented by our Plan for Nature. Our commitments to ecosystem repair and environmental protections work hand in hand with sustainable jobs and industries, and social justice.

We are facing a climate and environment emergency, and unlike the Tories we will not trade our environment in pursuit of reckless trade agreements.

We are facing a climate and environment emergency, and unlike the Tories we will not trade our environment in pursuit of reckless trade agreements. Labour will review and improve protected area designations, from National Parks to local nature reserves and urban green spaces.

We will introduce a Climate and Environment Emergency Bill setting out in law robust, binding new standards for decarbonisation, nature recovery, environmental quality and habitats and species protection.

We will maintain and continuously improve the existing EU standards of environmental regulation.

A Green Industrial revolution. Environment.

Our Plan for Nature will set legally binding targets to drive the restoration of species and habitats.

We will embark on an ambitious programme of tree planting, with both forestry and native woodland species.

We will fully fund the Environment Agency and other frontline environment agencies, and improve upstream river management.

We will create new National Parks alongside a revised system of other protected area designations, which will guard existing wildlife sites and join up important habitats, while also ensuring more people can enjoy living closer to nature.

We will establish a new environmental tribunal to ensure that administrative decisions are consistent with environmental and nature-recovery obligations.

Land is a public good, but it is not a common asset. In 1979, 20% of land was owned by the public sector. Today, that has halved. Green Belts protect one tenth of our land and offer conservation of some of our natural environment. Introduced by Labour in 1947 to provide access to the countryside, they are threatened by developments.

A Labour government will maintain agricultural and rural structural funds but repurpose them to support environmental land management and sustainable methods of food production.

A Green Industrial revolution. Environment.

We will set maximum sustainable yields for all shared fish stocks, redistribute fish quotas along social and environmental criteria and, if people vote to leave the EU, require the majority of fish caught under a UK quota to be landed in UK ports.

A Green Industrial revolution. Environment.

Labour has published an ambitious animal welfare manifesto which reiterates our commitments to prohibit foxhunting and end the cull of badgers.

In England, we will introduce an animal welfare commissioner, prohibit the sale of snares and glue traps, end the badger cull and ban the keeping of primates as pets. We will work internationally to end commercial whaling, ban the importation of hunting trophies of threatened species, and boost police resources to tackle rural and wildlife crime.

A Green Industrial revolution. Animal Welfare.

Labour will put human rights, international law and tackling climate change at the heart of our international policies

A New internationalism

Climate Diplomacy. There is no greater injustice today than countries in the Global South paying the price for a climate crisis they did not cause. Yet some world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, champion a climate-change denial agenda.

Britain’s climate-change diplomacy was respected internationally, playing an important role in securing the Paris Agreement, following the leading role the UK played in securing the Kyoto Agreement. However, Boris Johnson – who has described global warming as a ‘primitive fear… without foundation’ – has overseen a 60% cut in the UK’s global network of climate experts.

Only Labour can rebuild Britain’s leadership on the most serious threat to our shared humanity.

We will:

– rebuild our climate expertise within the Foreign Office, putting climate diplomacy at the heart of our foreign policy.

– use our influence at the UN, EU, G7, G20, World Bank, the Commonwealth and other global institutions to promote policies to tackle the climate emergency.

– use our diplomatic expertise to negotiate and deliver more ambitious global targets to deal with the climate emergency, starting with COP 26 in Glasgow next year.

A New Internationalism

Wealthy countries like the UK bear the greatest responsibility for the climate emergency. Countries in the Global South that have done the least to cause climate change are already facing the worst impacts, such as rising sea levels, more frequent hurricanes and greater food insecurity. We have a duty to right this wrong.

We will:

– provide a top-up of new and additional spending on international climate finance to bring the total to £4 billion a year, and also support international calls for compensation to those nations already suffering loss and damage.

– stop all aid spending on fossil fuel production overseas, redirecting it towards clean, renewable energy for all.

– end all UK Export Finance support to fossil fuel projects, and reject any trade deals that conflict with our climate principles.

– undertake a root-and-branch reform of CDC Group plc (DfID’s principal vehicle for encouraging private sector investment in developing countries), transforming it into a green development bank mandated to fight poverty, inequality and climate change.

A New Internationalism

This is a climate change manifesto. It treats climate change as a massive issue for people in the UK and across the world, for the economy and for business. And that must be right. And it then applies a left-leaning, for many too left-leaning, ideology (ie thought through and consistent approach to issues) to address the issues. Public ownership, public investment and regulation are key to addressing climate change and the alternative is letting the market rip which is more like the cause of the problem than its solution.

You cannot argue that climate change is not a massive issue – will other parties treat it in such a central and prominent way in their manifestos?

You might question whether the Labour solutions are the right solutions but I believe that we do need large government coupled with personal action by individuals to tackle climate change so I think this is very much on the right track.

It would be difficult to suggest that the measures set out here to tackle climate change are a public relations exercise they will quite clearly form a large part of what a Labour government would do from Day 1 if elected on 12 December.

We will have to wait for another week to see the Conservative manifesto. Will it deal with climate change in as serious a manner? Whether it does or doesn’t, it certainly won’t deal with it in this manner. If you care about climate change then there will be a real choice facing you in the voting booth on 12 December.

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7 Replies to “Election watch (5) – Labour manifesto”

  1. I read through it quickly but saw no mention of waste, namely reducing it except in - being generous - the form of boosting insulation measures and reducing water leakage. Real conservation means using less to make sure everybody gets enough and nature is left intact which is a different thing from sustainability which of course many companies like because in actuality it only means being able to keep churning stuff out indefinitely. Reducing our consumption of material resources is absolutely fundamental to protecting the environment through cutting food waste, using less wood and paper, avoiding plastic crap etc and thereby stopping and even reversing habitat loss and dealing with climate change, the latter is literally just an after effect of everything else. Not everything will be solved with solar panels sadly. I would have loved to have read that there will be a massive education campaign especially within schools on reduce, reuse, recycle - as direct and honest that Blue Planet II programme on plastics. There could also have been mention of greening the economy by promotion of recycled material (rather than the ludicrous box ticking exercise of putting glorified rubbish in a shipping container and sending it to China to be 'recycled') and reusable products. Imagine shoddy semi disposable wooden pallets being replaced with reusable plastic ones made from 'waste'collected from beach and sea cleanups - that would take a fair bite out of land needed for commercial forestry. Supermarkets could be pushed to reduce over packaging, incorporate more recycled material and maybe even have sections dedicated to new reusable products meant to replace disposable ones. I don't see anything in Labour's manifesto about ending the growth in incineration which actually forces us to keep producing vast quantities of 'waste'for decades - and I hope they don't label it (or biofuels) as a form of renewable energy which it certainly isn't. Some fine words and no doubt intentions, but IMHO critically flawed.

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    1. Les - there is some stuff on waste in the Environment section - both food waste and waste and recycling. I sympathise with both you ane the authors of any manifesto in that it is difficult for you to find evrything you want (easier with a paper cvopy and an index!0 and also difficult for the writers to position everything in the places where everybody will find them.

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  2. "Enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches"

    I guess Steptoe's footy days are long past but this just shows his contempt for the common people. Where will all the footy players go? Have we got 22,000 footy pitches to cover? Will any shortfall be made up from cricket pitches, rugby pitches, tennis courts, golf courses and race courses? I don't think this has been thought through.

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  3. Thanks for summarising it for us. From what you've said previously it sounds like it's a big improvement on earlier manifestos.

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