Labour’s leadership has announced pledges to build 37 new wind farms, quintupling UK’s wind capacity and creating 70,000 jobs.
• to ban sale of new non-electric cars by 2030
• to invest billions in the technology and production of electric cars, hastening the transition with a 30,000-strong community of car clubs
• to delist from the Stock Exchange companies that fail to meet environmental criteria.
Environmentalists need to fight for Labour to win in an impending general election, and to implement these policies if they win. To step up to the scale of the needed transformation, we must fight for Labour’s leadership to commit to more.
For starters, the leadership must pledge to implement the sections of radical policy passed by Labour conference.
The pledges themselves are far from ideal. The wind farms are to be only majority public-owned, and the “environmental criteria” for companies are as yet unspecified.
The timescale shows a characteristic lack of ambition. Sale of new fossil-fuel powered cars should be phased out much quicker than 2030, and the construction of them terminated immediately on Labour taking power. Cars currently have an average life of 14 years, so if fossil-fuel cars are still sold up until 2030, that locks us into fossil dependency until well beyond a 2030 target.
A scheme to scrap and recycle, or – where workable – to convert fossil-powered vehicles to electric is a necessary part of this transition. Necessary, too, is a huge investment in public transport and cycling infrastructure.
As for the net-zero 2030 target itself, it has been reported that this is “a target that senior party figures deem impossible to achieve”, and the “measure is unlikely to make it into Labour’s next manifesto”.
Labour conference committed to: “work towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, guaranteeing an increase in good unionised jobs in the UK, and the cost of which would be borne by the wealthiest not the majority; and implementing this target into law if it achieves a just transition for workers”. It is the leadership’s democratic duty to implement that.
Beyond presumed comments to journalists, the leadership have made – at conference, or since – no public argument as to why 2030 is impossible.
Rebecca Long-Bailey said she would be willing to support a 2030 net-zero target if there was a “credible plan with trade unions and industry”, and a “just transition” that did not adversely affect workers.
The policy as passed at Labour conference – and as yet largely ignored by Labour’s leadership – starts to sketch such a plan. Who could, and should take the lead on fleshing out such a credible policy?
Surely, for starters, the leadership of the Labour party, notably the Shadow Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rebecca Long-Bailey herself?