Labour manifesto: low-carbon economy, plastic reduction and Great Repeal repeal

The Labour Party has included a number of environmental proposals in its general election manifesto, including measures to reduce plastic waste and safeguard environmental regulations post-Brexit, with similar pledges included in the Green Party’s Environment Manifesto published last week.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking at the ‘For the Many, Not the Few’ manifesto launch event today (16 May), announced a raft of proposals that a Labour Government would implement if it were to win the general election on 8 June.

Aside from the expected pledges to bring public utilities and the railways back into public ownership and a restructuring of income tax rates, the manifesto features the environment and sustainability as a key cross-cutting theme across important issues such as infrastructure, industrial strategy, and energy.

Labour manifesto: low-carbon economy, plastic reduction and Great Repeal repealOne such pledge is to ‘set guiding targets for plastic bottle schemes’ in order to reduce plastic waste, and to work with food manufacturers and retailers to achieve this aim.

Furthermore, Labour has committed to maintaining and advancing existing environmental quality standards, as well as introducing a new Clean Air Act, ‘blue belts’ to safeguard species and habitats in the marine environment surrounding the UK, and to keep the UK’s forests in public hands.

To ensure that no environmental laws deriving from European legislation is lost during the course of Brexit, the manifesto states: ‘We will drop the Conservatives’ Great Repeal Bill, replacing it with an EU Rights and Protections Bill that will ensure there is no detrimental change to workers’ rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections as a result of Brexit.’ It is not clear how this bill will differ from the Great Repeal Bill, which has already committed to protecting the ‘whole body’ of environmental legislation.

The party also pledged to investing in a low carbon economy, with commitments to ensure 60 per cent of UK energy comes from zero carbon or renewable sources by 2030, to exploit carbon capture and storage technologies to aid this transition, to ban fracking, and to make significant investment in a renewables sector, which saw a turnover of £7 billion last year.

Labour and Greens both focusing on plastic

The inclusion of the environmental proposals makes Labour the second party to release specific proposals pertaining to the environment in the last few days following the release of the Green Party’s Environment Manifesto last week.

At a launch event in North London, co-leader Caroline Lucas announced that the Green Party would pledge to introduce a new Environmental Protection Act to enshrine EU environmental regulations into UK law, introduce a bottle deposit return scheme and a ban on unnecessary single-use plastics, as well as keeping fossil fuels in the ground and introducing new support for wind and solar power, as well as ending the monopoly of the Big Six energy companies.

Although both the Labour and Green Party manifestos underline the importance of the environment and the natural world to the economy, a point it would be remiss not to push in a general election campaign if both parties hope to make any headway with the public on these policies, reference to the circular economy is a notable omission from the Labour manifesto, while allusions to resource use and recycling targets are also conspicuous by their absence.

The full 124-page Labour manifesto can be read on the Party’s website.

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