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What do we think – the Labour party manifesto

Posted by Rosie Rogers - 17th May 2017


By Rebecca Newsom and Rosie Rogers

Yesterday, the Labour Party launched their manifesto for the General Election on 8th June. Here is Greenpeace’s analysis of the good, the bad and the missing aspects of the manifesto in relation to the issues that are important to us and everyone who cares about a green and peaceful world. Please check our website for further analysis of other Party manifestos as they come out.

The good:

Energy and climate: there is loads of good stuff in the manifesto that if it happens will transform our current energy system to one that works for jobs, green growth and our planet. Some highlights include “aiming for 60% of the UK’s energy to come from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030”, “insulating 4 million homes” to make them more energy efficient and banning fracking.

Air pollution and transport: we are very pleased to see a commitment to a Clean Air Act, electrifying our railways and investing in electric vehicles.

Oceans: it’s great to see the manifesto prioritise money for farming and fishing that is small scale and sustainable as well as the promise to safeguard the habitats and species in the seas and oceans in a ‘blue belt’ around the UK and its overseas territories.

Nature: luckily for our bees, there is a clear policy from Labour to “protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids”. There are also strong statements to protect our environment by promising to “plant a million trees” and promote and protect animal welfare.

International climate leadership: As we speak, Trump is deciding whether or not to pull out of the Paris Agreement (sign our petition here to stop him!) and so we welcome the Labour Party stating they will confirm their commitment to the Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement.

Peace: as the name suggests, GreenPEACE cares about peace! So it’s good to see policies in the manifesto such as “publish a strategy for protecting civilians in conflict” and “lead multilateral efforts with international partners and the UN to create a nuclear-free world.”

Overall, the manifesto paints a good picture of what issues matter to Labour – ranging from sustainable fishing, to tackling plastic pollution, a sustainable energy system, air pollution and committing to global leadership by defending the Paris Agreement. If Labour do find themselves in power in June, then action on these issues would be very welcome.

As with every manifesto, there is room for improvement. Here in our view, are the bits of the manifesto we wish weren’t in there.

The bad:

Continue to promote North Sea oil and gas: of course we need a transition from oil and gas to sustainable energy, but this policy sends the wrong signals to the industries. Labour should be moving away from dirty, old fossil fuels towards backing the thriving offshore wind and smart technology, which could deliver thousands of new skilled jobs.

Continue to support further nuclear projects across the UK: to us, this makes no environmental or economic sense, given the absurdly expensive costs of nuclear technology, in contrast to the dramatically falling costs of safe and secure renewable alternatives. To read more, see here.

Cautious support for expanded airport capacity in the South East: As you may know, Greenpeace supports no new runways. Expansion anywhere is incompatible with our climate change commitments. It is promising, however, that Labour has guaranteed that any airport expansion must adhere to tests on noise pollution, air quality and climate change

Support the renewal of the Trident weapon system – Greenpeace does not believe nuclear weapons are compatible with a green and peaceful world. There are 196 countries in this world and only 8 have nuclear weapons. We promised the international community we would negotiate ours away. It’s a promise we need to keep. See here for more info. 

The missing:

Devil in the detail: what’s really missing from the manifesto is proper detail on the policies Labour would adopt to deliver their environmental vision. Some of this detail is clearer for energy, which is fantastic. However, it’s not quite clear how Labour plans to do things like “invest in rural and coastal communities” and “safeguard habitats and marine species in the ‘blue belts’ of the seas and ocean. More detail on how Labour plan to do things like this could make or break their policies on our natural world and the creatures in it. For example, does “guiding targets for plastic bottle schemes” mean introducing a deposit return scheme with ambitious targets; does safeguarding habitats mean matching the current Government’s commitments to 127 marine protected areas, or even going beyond? For more information on how the next Government can protect our oceans, check out this blog we did last week.

Equally, it’s great that Labour promise to “guarantee the protection and advancement of environmental quality standards”, however it’s unclear how they will do this, especially in a post Brexit world.

Diesel: when it comes to air pollution, Labour’s manifesto is disappointingly weak on plans to tackle the root of the problem: diesel. We know that toxic emissions from diesel vehicles are a large cause of the air pollution on our roads, but the manifesto fails to recognise this, or outline substantial measures to address it, like revising Vehicle Excise Duty for new diesel cars. While more investment in electric vehicles is vital, it is also unclear how much Labour is prepared to put into this.

Overall, the manifesto paints a compelling vision of for a new energy and environmental future – including action on sustainable fishing, tackling plastic pollution, a sustainable energy system, air pollution and committing to global leadership by defending the Paris Agreement. However, there are some important areas for improvement and more detail is required to be confident that Labour could actually deliver in key areas. It will be interesting to see what comes out in the Conservative, and other parties’ manifestos later this week.


Article Tagged as: Featured, Politics, opinion


About Rosie Rogers

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I'm Rosie and I am a Senior Political Advisor at Greenpeace UK.

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