Labour Party Manifesto 2010 A green future for Britain
The challenge for Britain
To be on track for the transition to a low-carbon economy in a way that is fair, secure and helps create the jobs of the future, as we protect and enhance our natural environment and quality of life. For the Tories the environment has been all about image — by failing to deliver on our renewable energy targets, reversing our planning reforms and giving up on our new industrial strategy, they would put Labour’s low-carbon revolution in jeopardy.
The next stage of national renewal
* Achieve around 40 per cent low-carbon electricity by 2020 and create 400,000 new green jobs by 2015.
* Make greener living easier and fairer through ‘pay as you save’ home energy insulation, energy-bill discounts for pensioners and requiring landlords to properly insulate rented homes.
* Move towards a ‘zero waste’ Britain, banning recyclable and biodegradable materials from landfill.
* Link together new protected areas of habitat; maintain the Green Belt; increase forest and woodland areas.
* Ensure fairness for food producers through EU reform and a Supermarkets Ombudsman; and support post offices, shops and pubs in rural communities.
Britain is a transition economy: from high carbon to low carbon. To avert the catastrophe of unchecked climate change we have begun the shift to a different kind of economic future. Our vision is of a society where economic prosperity and quality of life come not from exploiting the natural world but from its defence.
This is a huge challenge, not just for Britain but for the world. Living within our environmental means will require a dramatic shift using resources more efficiently and reducing waste. We will need to find new ways of balancing the multiple uses of land: safeguarding food security at the same time as enriching our natural environment; protecting distinctive landscapes while enabling environmentally sensitive development.
Labour’s environmental agenda reflects our values. Only active government can shape markets to prioritise green growth and job creation. Environmental sustainability cannot be left to individuals and businesses acting alone. We believe that people have the right to a healthy environment. That means giving everyone access to the beauty and amenity of natural places; we want to make it easier to live in a sustainable way whatever your standard of living.
We believe in local community action – enabling both elected councils and community and social enterprises to provide environmental benefits to local people. We are internationalists too: only co-operative global action – including a strong European Union – can tackle climate change and protect the world’s precious environments.
Towards a green economy
We have established low-carbon policy as one of the principal engines of our economic recovery and future growth. Our aim is to create 400,000 new green jobs by 2015. The foundation of Labour’s approach has been leadership on climate change. The 2008 Climate Change Act made Britain the first country in the world to put its carbon targets into law.
Internationally, we will continue to work for an ambitious, fair and legally binding climate change agreement, building on the Copenhagen Accord to limit global temperature rises to two degrees Celsius. In the next Parliament, we will use our leadership in the EU to push for a strengthening of Europe’s 2020 emission reductions from 20 to 30 per cent by 2020 as part of an ambitious global deal. This would mean the UK increasing its current target of a 34 per cent reduction. As part of the negotiations, we believe Europe should agree a second Kyoto commitment period, provided all countries are brought within a clear legal framework.
Developing countries need help to adapt, reduce deforestation and emissions. From 2013 we will provide climate assistance additional to our commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of national income in overseas aid. No more than ten per cent of our aid will be counted towards climate finance.
This Government is revolutionising Britain’s energy policy. We are building a clean energy system which will reduce Britain’s dependence on imported oil and gas and increase our energy security. We are planning for around 40 per cent of our electricity to come from low-carbon sources by 2020 – renewables, nuclear and clean fossil fuels. A major drive for energy efficiency will be enhanced by a ‘smart grid’ using new information technologies.
We are committed to meeting 15 per cent of our energy demand from renewables by 2020. We already have more offshore wind-power than any other country in the world, and our plans could see this increase up to 40 times, alongside other renewable technologies such as tidal and marine, solar and sustainable bio-energy. We will make a decision early in the next Parliament on the feasibility of alternative options for a tidal energy project on the Severn, taking full account of the environmental impacts.
We have taken the decisions to enable a new generation of nuclear power stations, and a programme of four clean coal plants with carbon capture and storage technology with a levy to fund them. We are the only Government in the world to have banned new unabated coal-fired power stations.
To secure this investment – likely to be worth around £150 billion over the next decade – we have reformed the planning system to reduce delays for major infrastructure. We will now reform the regulatory system to provide the certainty that investors need, and create a Green Investment Bank to help finance this transformation.
In stimulating the sustainable use of resources, we will move towards a ‘zero waste’ Britain, banning recyclable and biodegradable materials from landfill and continuing the move towards universal water metering in areas of water stress.
Our industrial strategy will ensure that the drive to green our economy will create jobs and businesses in Britain in the manufacture and installation of low-carbon and environmental technologies.
Making green living easier and fairer
Everyone can play their part in reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment. Through our requirement that energy companies provide subsidies for insulation, we will ensure that all household lofts and cavity walls are insulated, where practical, by 2015. By 2020 every home will have a smart meter to help control energy use and enable cheaper tariffs; and we will enable seven million homes to have a fuller ‘eco-upgrade’.
We will legislate to introduce ‘Pay As You Save’ financing schemes under which home-energy improvements can be paid for from the savings they generate on energy bills. Already with our new ‘feedin tariffs’ and incentive for renewable heat, households fitting micro-generation technologies such as solar can earn financial rewards from the energy they generate themselves.
Labour is determined to end fuel poverty and create a fair energy system for all. We will introduce a new Warm Home Standard for social housing and regulate landlords so that privately rented accommodation is properly insulated. We have legislated for compulsory contributions from energy companies to protect the vulnerable.
To deliver the fairest deal for consumers, we will ensure greater competition in the energy supply market. And we will review the role of the water regulator, Ofwat, to ensure customers get the best deal and their voice is heard in price-setting.
Encouraging greener living is about communities, not just individuals. We will devolve power to local councils to hold energy companies to account for community energy efficiency programmes, and give them powers to develop local energy systems such as renewables and district heating. We want local people to have a stake in local renewable energy projects such as wind farms. So we will support community organisations, co-ops and social enterprises to provide energy services, meaning lower prices through bulk purchasing, and the development of small-scale renewables.
We have made it far easier for everyone to recycle. From nine per cent when we came to office, now 37 per cent of municipal waste is recycled or composted. Next we will drive the introduction of ‘recycling on the go’, with separated public bins on the street and in shopping centres.
We have championed the increasing desire of many to grow their own food, encouraging local authorities to provide more allotments and getting kids to learn about growing food in school. We will work with community organisations to make it easier to find and use sites for ‘grow your own’ schemes.
Valuing nature for everyone
For millions of people the British countryside, and the parks and commons of our towns and cities, provide solace from the pressures of modern life. The riches of Britain’s biodiversity – our native species, both rare and commonplace – depend on them.
We are committed not only to protecting but also to enhancing our natural environment, and enabling it to be enjoyed by all. The area of Green Belt has increased over the last decade – and we intend to sustain it. We will maintain the target that 60 per cent of new development should be on brownfield land.
We have created two National Parks in the New Forest and South Downs, and given the public a Right to Roam our mountains, moors and heaths. We will now extend this to the whole English coastline.
Competing pressures – from greater food production to housing and natural flood defences – are making the management of land resources ever more challenging. We will introduce a new framework for managing our land that can more effectively reconcile these pressures. We will put forward new areas for protected landscape and habitat status, focusing on green corridors and wildlife networks to link up existing sites. And we will commit to increasing the area covered by forest and woodland.
Our air, rivers and beaches are now the cleanest they have been since the height of the industrial revolution. We will continue to ensure progress. Having doubled spending on flood defence over the last decade we will bring forward legislation to improve floods and water management.
We have banned foxhunting and animal testing for cosmetics and tobacco, and we will bring forward further animal welfare measures. We will campaign internationally to end illegal trading in ivory and to protect species such as polar bears, seals and bluefin tuna, as well as for an EU-wide ban on illegally logged timber, banning it domestically if this does not succeed.
Sustainable farming, healthy food
We want British farming to be profitable and competitive. We need our farmers to produce more food, nurturing our countryside and biodiversity.
We will continue to seek reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) to facilitate the creation of fairer and betterfunctioning agricultural markets, enabling farmers toreturn a reasonable profit from food production at lower cost to the consumer.
In order to protect farmers and food suppliers from unfair and uncompetitive practices by major retailers, we will create a Supermarket Ombudsman. Consumers have the right to know where food comes from. We are working with the food industry and retailers to ensure proper food labelling, including tougher and clearer ‘country of origin’ information. This will also help to level the playing field for British farmers. An economically viable and environmentally sustainable fishing industry is vital for our coastal communities. We will push for fundamental reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy.
Thriving rural communities
Those who live in rural areas are entitled to excellent amenities and services, as are those who live in towns and cities. Rural communities face unique challenges. We are committed to continued investment in frontline services in rural areas.
Already £3.9 billion is being spent on support for the rural economy and we will continue to provide specific support to rural businesses. We are building 10,000 homes in rural areas up to 2011. We are protecting rural bus services and making it more difficult for rural schools to be closed.
Rural businesses and communities must have the broadband connections they need. We are committed to universal broadband access, irrespective of location. The levy on fixed phone lines will pay for expansion of fast broadband connections to rural areas.
Rural villages should never be left without essential services. Councils now have to ensure that the importance of local services to the community is taken into account before granting planning permission to change their use, and we will strengthen this to protect viable shops, pubs and community facilities. We will continue to encourage and support imaginative solutions in rural communities to the provision of locally owned services.