In his speech at the annual Labour Party Conference yesterday (29 September), leader Keir Starmer outlined plans to bring forward a Green New Deal.
Describing climate change as “the hardest question and the biggest issue of our time”, Starmer said that a delay in action of a decade would result in the costs of the climate transition doubling.
It is this urgency that is the motivation behind the Green New Deal, which includes a Climate Investment Pledge that Starmer said would “put us back on track to cut the substantial majority of emissions this decade”.
This follows similar pledges made by the Labour Party previously, having approved a motion to adopt a Green New Deal at its 2019 Conference.
This Green New Deal included plans to commit to pursuing a net zero economy by 2030 in the event of a Labour majority in any prospective general election, with a report on the fastest pathway to this released the same month. The report found this would require a “vast expansion” of renewables and result in a net benefit of £800 billion.
In his speech yesterday, Starmer also highlighted the need to upgrade homes, making reference to Labour’s Zero Carbon Homes policy, which was first announced in 2006 by then-chancellor Gordon Brown and intended to come into effect in 2016. It would have ensured that all new houses would have had to generate as much energy on-site as they consume, however it was later scrapped by the 2015 coalition government.
The current government has since announced new measures to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock have been introduced, although the chief policy among these – the Future Homes Standard – is not due to come into effect for several more years.
Alongside this, the Green Homes Grant, a scheme designed to alleviate the cost burden of energy efficiency and low carbon heat retrofits, was scrapped early.
“It will be Labour’s national mission over the next decade, to fit out every home that needs it, to make sure it is warm, well-insulated and costs less to heat and we will create thousands of jobs in the process,” Starmer said.
He also pledged that Labour would introduce a Clean Air Act if voted into power in the next general election, and that everything the party would do in government would be required to meet a net zero test.