Protecting the planet and growing the economy for a fairer Britain - SERA’s Manifesto 2017
The general election offers the chance to show strong leadership on our environment - from protecting our natural world and championing clean air and energy to delivering green jobs and sustainable transport.
Leadership is critical at a time when the environment is facing huge challenges, at both the domestic and international levels. Global action to tackle climate change faces significant setbacks as Donald Trump attempts to slash US climate ambition, whilst at home we risk the loss of environment standards and enforcement as the UK leaves the EU.
Despite this uncertainty, environmental concerns are growing ever more salient. As well as the increasing effects of climate change, there’s also greater recognition of the public health significance of toxic air pollution, and of the impact on our environment from waste, especially plastics.
Yet as the costs of inaction are increasingly obvious, so too are the benefits of ambition – low-carbon industries came through the last economic downturn stronger than other parts of the economy, and continue to provide, pound-for-pound, more jobs than fossil fuels. Internationally, our clean-tech companies, renewable energy expertise and green finance all have the potential to be world-leading: a key advantage for developing new global trade deals.
Labour is already driving bold environmental programmes in power, from elected-mayors to local councils. It can do the same and more on a national level, leading with a strong, progressive green vision. Whether the focus is jobs, health, quality of life or Britain’s place in the world, putting the environment at the heart of Labour’s general election offer has never been more important.
SERA’s asks for Labour’s 2017 manifesto
Showing leadership on progressive environmental policy
Labour must commit to an ambitious environment programme that combines sustainable and low carbon approaches with social justice.
A bold environment vision would involve international leadership on climate change agreements and driving environmental change across government
This change can be delivered through ambitious commitments on sustainable energy, a plan to support the low-carbon economy and a strong commitment to maintain and develop the UK environmental legislation. Any green vision must be joined-up, considering policies across departments and both local and national government
Generating power for the 21st Century
Tackling rising energy prices, renewing our energy infrastructure and reducing our carbon emissions are among the greatest challenges ahead. We believe a Labour Government should:
Enshrine in UK law the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, so that 20% of final energy consumption is from renewable sources by 2020
Stick to the ambitious, legally binding targets for carbon reduction set out by the Committee for Climate Change - including the decarbonisation of our electricity supply by 2030, and full implementation of carbon budgets
Commit to a cap on energy bills, with a plan to reform the energy system and switching process, breaking the stranglehold of the ‘Big Six’
Encourage more community, cooperative and municipally owned energy generation by reviewing the process of accessing the grid and providing long-term targets for the percentage of the nation’s energy supply to be generated from these organisations
Support a ban on fracking and prohibit any gas exploration within National Parks and Sites of Special Scientific Interest
Supporting the green economy and sustainable jobs
As the transition from fossil fuels ramps up, the UK economy must embrace the clean-energy era. With our low-carbon expertise an international asset, a Labour government must lead on the green economy, creating skilled jobs and sustainable growth. To do this it must:
Commit to a target of 1.5 million new green jobs by 2025
Commit to ensuring that all new homes built are zero carbon and work with local authorities and energy companies to implement an ambitious plan to insulate existing homes, with energy efficiency an national infrastructure priority
Use public sector procurement to create a further market for low carbon technologies, and enforce sustainability standards
Embed support for low-carbon technology and innovation into any investment funds, both national and local. This should also be a key priority for both Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Local Growth Fund
Give local authorities greater powers to drive low-carbon investment in their community. This should include the ability to borrow to fund clean energy projects, and the control of local infrastructure spending
Securing our environment
Protecting our environment supports a better future for us and future generations, safeguarding public health and improving quality of life. From improving our toxic air to securing environmental regulations post-Brexit, clear action is needed now. To protect our environment Labour must:
Introduce a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st Century to tackle our toxic air and set out a roadmap for a cleaner transport system. This must include a fully funded scrappage scheme that promotes clean, low-carbon transport, (including the UK’s low-emission motor industry) and should devolve power and budgets to local authorities to act on air pollution
Consider an independent enforcement body for air quality standards to hold national and local government, as well as businesses to account for emissions standards and Clean Air Plans
Ensure that any replacement for CAP links payment of farming subsidies to ‘public money for public good’, and prioritises sustainable farming and fishing practices
Introduce a new Environmental Protection Act that commits the government to providing an equivalent, or better level of environmental protection when we leave the EU, and ensures enforcement of these standards after we leave