The key task for the climate change movement in the UK between now and the end of the year is to get rid of Boris Johnson’s government.
Movements like XR argue that they are “above politics” and its quite right to aim to mobilise everyone regardless of existing affiliations or leanings. However this election offers a stark choice that can’t be ducked because the resulting government will either be one that will push ahead with the most ambitious green investment strategy in any developed country, or be one that will be trailing in the wake of Donald Trump’s denialist international.
The movement will either have a government it can work with – or one that it will have to keep mobilising against.
And we don’t have a lot of time.
Boris Johnson himself has not voted for any practical measure to reduce carbon emissions since he has been in parliament. By contrast Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas have voted for 92% of them. Conservative MPs have on average voted for less than half of these measures; Labour for more than half. The Guardian has a useful graph on this which shows the 50% mark mostly red above and blue below (1). Jo Swinson is on 50% and the Lib Dem record is wildly inconsistent.
Johnson is in an explicit alignment with Donald Trump.
If elected we can be sure that he would move Conservative government rhetoric away from current greenwash into line with his voting record.
The Conservative manifesto is being written by a lobbyist for a fracking company (2).
By contrast Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution pledges the following; and its worth reading all of this. What follows is a lightly updated and edited version of the full document from earlier in the year to take account of conference decisions. If there are significant alterations in the Manifesto I will update this blog accordingly.
Decarbonise the energy grid by the 2030s. Fracking banned.
Support the development of tidal lagoons,
Upgrade and invest in flexible energy networks capable of supporting a transition to decentralised renewable energy
Remove the barriers to onshore wind put in place by the Conservative government…invest in wind, solar and other renewable projects. Five times as much offshore and three times as much onshore wind.
Work closely with energy unions to support energy workers and communities through transition
Upgrade 4 million homes to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C in five years, investing £2.3bn per year to provide financial support for households to insulate their homes, with a zero carbon standard for new-build homes introduced as soon as possible.
Insulation schemes to be done by local authorities working street to street to save at least £275 per year for affected households, improve the health and well being of families, reduce costs to the NHS and create thousands of new skilled jobs.
Prioritise affordable homes in the new zero carbon homes programme, provide funding to support councils and housing associations to build new homes to Passivhaus standards
Tighten regulation of privately rented homes, blocking poorly insulated homes
from being rented out
Introduce new legal minimum standards to ensure properties are fit for human habitation and empower tenants to take action if their rented homes are sub-standard
Introduce a new Clean Air Act.
Expand public transport, bring our railways back into public ownership, cap fares, and support the creation of municipal bus companies run for passengers not profit.
Expand and electrify the railway network across the whole country, including in Wales and the South West and build Crossrail for the North linked to HS2
Encourage greater use of public transport, introducing free bus travel for under
25s where local authorities regulate or own local bus services – paid
for with money ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty
Position the UK at the forefront of the development, manufacture and use of ultra-low emission vehicles
Retrofit thousands of diesel buses in areas with the most severe air quality problems to
Euro 6 standards
Airport expansion must adhere to our tests to address, noise levels, air quality and the UK’s climate change obligations.
Establish new democratic public water companies which will be mandated by
DEFRA to meet environmental and social objectives
FARMING, FISHING, HABITATS AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT
Funds for farming and fishing to support sustainable practices,
Embed and enhance in policy the responsibility for farmers to conserve, enhance and create safe habitats for birds, insects and other wild animals, and encourage the growth of wildflowers.
New guidance to end the use of antibiotics for routine, preventative purposes with farm animals.
A science innovation fund to promote the most sustainable forms of farming and fishing, with support earmarked for our small-scale fishing fleet
Review the allocation of UK fishing quota to promote the most sustainable fishing
Protect habitats and species in the ‘blue belts’ of the seas and oceans surrounding
the United Kingdom and its overseas territories,
Set targets for plastic bottle deposit schemes,
Strengthen the Hunting Act, end the badger cull, make illegal hunting and all wildlife crime a reportable offence,
Initiate a large tree planting programme, working with farmers and foresters to
promote biodiversity and better flood prevention
End rotational heather burning and launch a review into the economic, environmental and wildlife impacts of grouse shooting
Ban wild animals in circuses
Put the environment and human rights at the heart of our foreign policy, drive forward new multilateral environmental agreements, direct our armed forces to devote more resources to tackle humanitarian emergencies
Negotiate a future relationship with the EU that maintains and extends all environmental rights, standards and protections as a baseline, while introducing more ambitious domestic environmental policy than that guaranteed at the European level
Develop a cross-government strategy to ensure UN Sustainable Development
Goals are implemented and reported on annually to Parliament
Commit to supporting climate mitigation and adaptation in the Global South, and to support countries severely affected
Oppose investor-state dispute systems in international trade and investment agreements, and other trade rules that can be used to undermine domestic or international environmental protections
Ensure UK aid does not support fossil fuel projects, divesting DFID away from fossil
fuels towards renewable energy sources
Promote UK Export Finance support for the energy sector towards low-carbon projects
in place of its overwhelming support for fossil fuel projects in previous years
This programme cannot be left to government ministers to get on with. Its not a matter of voting for it and sitting back. It will only happen if the whole movement engages with it and mobilises support for it and works on its implementation at every level and through every lever available to us.