London in the haze

Labour commits to lowering UK carbon emissions to zero by 2050

Image credit: Press Association

Labour has committed itself to lowering the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 as part of its climate change action plan.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, also said that nearly all of Britain’s homes and businesses would be powered by wind, solar and nuclear power by 2030.

This equates to producing roughly 85 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs from renewable and low-carbon sources, a sizable increase on the 50 per cent they provide today.

This follows recommendations from government climate advisers in January who said that the UK’s legal targets for emissions will not be met unless at least three-fifths of new cars and vans purchased are electric by 2030. 

Long-Bailey is set to make the announcement at Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool, where she will say that man-made climate change represents an “existential threat” and that the UK must do better than the government’s current target of cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

If the UK were to follow Labour’s pledge, it would put the country ahead of EU goals and position it as a climate-change leader following its exit from the EU.

Other recommendations include:

  • Making every house in the UK energy efficient to reduce heat demand from buildings by almost one quarter.
  • Providing 44 per cent of heating demand from renewable sources.
  • A seven-fold increase in offshore wind and a doubling in onshore wind.
  • Almost tripling solar power.

Taken together, these measures are expected to provide enough wind and solar power to power 19.5 million homes.

Long-Bailey said: “The potential benefits of transitioning to a sustainable economy are enormous and we want to make sure these are shared by everyone. Our transition to net zero emissions will involve working closely with energy unions to ensure that we tackle climate change in a way that delivers good jobs.

“It cannot be right that the few who are profiting from climate change are shifting the consequences onto the many, as working people suffer from polluted air in our inner cities and rising food prices due to unpredictable weather.

“The Tories are not up to the job of dealing with the existential threat posed by climate change. The Committee on Climate Change says the Government is ‘off track’ on tackling this issue and they’re on course to miss carbon reduction targets.”

Labour’s new target “lays down a challenge to this and future governments”, she said.­­­

In May, the Commons Environmental Audit Committee said that falling investment in renewable energy projects over the last two years threatens Britain’s ability to meet its legally binding carbon targets. 

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