Labour says Britain should be carbon-neutral by 2030 in radical policy shift

Hugo Gye

This article originally appeared in iNews


Britain should go carbon-neutral in just over a decade, Labour has said as activists backed plans for a "green new deal".

The party committed to eliminating net emissions by 2030 by taking control of all large energy firms, building new railways and increasing taxes on the rich. The move is a victory for green activists who faced off against union chiefs at the party conference in Brighton.

Labour's new environment policy says that global warming should be restricted to 1.5C - even though average temperatures are already 1C above historical averages. It would commit Britain to "a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030", 20 years sooner than the current Government's target.

The measure would also monitor carbon emissions from products which are consumed in the UK but produce elsewhere, preventing the country from "outsourcing" emissions to poorer countries.

Transport boost

Among the specific measures proposed are a ban on fracking, taking the "big six" energy firms into state ownership, and building new "zero-carbon social and coucil housing".

Activists also backed an increase in public transport provision with more high-speed rail, electric buses and schemes to make it easier to walk around Britain's town and cities. The cost of the plans would be "borne by the wealthiest through progressive taxation" with rich Britons paying sharply higher levies.

Labour for a Green New Deal, the pressure group which pushed the policies, said: "This is a historic day for the labour movement and the country. Labour has now committed to decarbonise Britain by 2030 as part of a transformational, socialist green new deal."

Some union chiefs were fiercely opposed to the measures, claiming they were unachievable and would end up destroying jobs. Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said: "The proposal to do it by 2030 threatens whole communities, threatens jobs, and frankly GMB members in communities right up and down the UK have heard it all before.

"This will mean that within a decade people’s petrol cars being confiscated. This will mean families can only take one flight every five years. Net zero carbon emissions by 2030 is utterly unachievable."

The move was welcomed by US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has championed similar measures in America. She tweeted: "This is a huge deal: one of the first major political party adoptions of a #GreenNewDeal as an official policy plank."

Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey backed the policy but admitted it could prove tricky to deliver. She told the BBC Britain may miss the target by "one or two years".