Labour Environment

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Environment and Climate Emergency

On 1 May 2019 Jeremy Corbyn brought a motion to the HoC to declare an environment and climate emergency [1].

Some of the key points raised in his speech:

  • Let’s work more closely with countries that are serious about ending the climate catastrophe, especially those at the sharp edge. Like the Maldives – so vulnerable to rising sea levels. They told the UN climate talks last year: “we are not prepared to die” and implored countries to unite
  • And Bangladesh, whose foreign minister recently warned of the “existential threat” posed by climate breakdown to the 160 million people of his country as he urged others to adhere to their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement
  • We must be absolutely clear-eyed about the Paris Agreement. As significant as it is – it is not enough
  • If every country meets its current pledges temperatures will still rise by three degrees this century
    • At that point southern Europe, the horn of Africa, Central America and the Caribbean will be in permanent drought
    • Major cities, like Miami and Rio de Janeiro will be lost to rising sea levels
    • At four degrees, which is where we’re currently heading, agricultural systems will collapse
  • This isn’t just climate change. It is a climate emergency
  • Around the world we’re seeing ice caps melting, coral reefs dissolving, droughts in Africa, hurricanes in the Americas and wildfires in Australia
  • The heating up of our climate is contributing to the terrifying loss of animal and plant species – something we are only just recognising.
  • According to the WWF, humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970.
  • Earlier this year the first global scientific review of its kind found that insects could become extinct within a century unless action is taken.
  • Meanwhile intensive farming is pumping the earth full of fertilisers and taking its toll on our soil.
  • A more sustainable farming system will actually lead in the longer run to better yields and less cost in pesticides, herbicides and fertiliserk
  • A 2015 study found that children living in inner city areas can have their lung capacity reduced by up to 10% due to air pollution.
  • It is even more extreme for those children growing up in the polluted cities in India or China.
  • So the Green Industrial Revolution will be about unwinding both of those injustices. Harnessing manufacturing to avert climate breakdown while providing well-paid, high-skilled and secure jobs
  • Imagine if the former coalfield areas of Derbyshire or Yorkshire became the new centres for the development of battery and energy storage.
  • If towns that used to make locomotives, like Swindon, became hubs for building the next generation of high-speed trains.
  • If shipbuilding areas like the Clyde were at the heart of making offshore wind turbines

The motion was passed without difficulty. We can be pretty sure that it means little to the Tories, but it does put a stake in the ground for how Labour see the Paris accord as not being enough and how they wish not only to solve the environmental and climate issues, but also to invest in a Green Industrial Revolution [2].

  1. Jeremy Corbyn declares environment and climate emergency, 1 May 2019:
  2. The Labour Party and declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’, 29 November 2018:

GE2017 Manifesto [1]

Investing in our environment is investing in our future. We will defend and extend existing environmental protections. We will champion sustainable farming, food and fishing by investing in and promoting skills, technology, market access and innovation.

The Conservatives broke their promise to be the greenest government ever. They have allowed fracking in national parks, evaded their responsibilities on air quality and cut the funding for flood defences. The future of our farming, food and fishing industries hangs in the balance, to be used as leverage in Brexit negotiations.

We will give the Fire and Rescue Services a statutory duty to coordinate and respond to floods.

Only a Labour government will prioritise a sustainable, long-term future for our farming, fishing and food industries, fund robust flood resilience, invest in rural and coastal communities, and guarantee the protection and advancement of environmental quality standards.

The Conservatives’ threatened ‘bonfire of red tape’ is a threat to our environmental protections and to the quality of our lives. Their record on combating climate change and environmental damage has been one of inaction and broken promises.

The balance needs resetting: our air is killing us, our farms face an uncertain future, our fish stocks are collapsing, our oceans are used as dumping grounds, and our forests, green belt, national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are all under threat.

Labour will introduce a new Clean Air Act to deal with the Conservative legacy of illegal air quality.

We will safeguard habitats and species in the ‘blue belts’ of the seas and oceans surrounding our island. We will set guiding targets for plastic bottle deposit schemes, working with food manufacturers and retailers to reduce waste. We will protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids as soon as our EU relationship allows us to do so. We will work with farmers and foresters to plant a million trees of native species to promote biodiversity and better flood management. Unlike the Conservatives who attempted to privatise our forests, Labour will keep them in public hands.

Our stewardship of the environment needs to be founded on sound principles and based on scientific assessments. We will establish a science innovation fund, working with farmers and fisheries, that will include support for our small-scale fishing fleet.

  1. Labour Party Manifesto 2017, Leading Richer Lives Manifesto Leading Richer Lives

Green Industrial Revolution

Labour are calling for a Green Industrial Revolution. In partnership with the to be created Investment Bank, Labour will invest in Green Jobs. This is becoming known as the "Green New Deal" to get workers into highly paid skilled jobs that make us world leaders in promoting environmental solutions [1][2].

  1. Green Industrial Revolution - Call for Evidence:
  2. Labour's 'green industrial revolution', The Ecologist, 16th May 2019:

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