Comparing climate policies for the 2015 election
The Labour Party manifesto is out but does it answer our key questions when it comes to the environment and climate change? In the build-up to the 2015 General Election the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is exploring the climate manifestos from each party and weighing up what’s on offer. Whichever party or coalition of parties forms the Government after 7th May will go on to represent us at the crucial Paris UN climate summit in December, where the world’s governments must broker an agreement to avoid really serious climate change.
1. Does your party’s climate policy accept the urgency of the evidence as defined by the recent 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, and if implemented, how will it avoid the crucial 2°C average global temperature rise?
The Labour Party acknowledges that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing the world today and believes that Britain must work hard at home and abroad to tackle it. They are committed to leading on domestic action to make the transition to a low carbon economy. The last Labour Government merged climate change and energy into the same department (DECC) and introduced the Climate Change Act, with the first legally binding emissions reduction targets. They are committed to existing Carbon Budgets, and aim to take the carbon out of the electricity supply by 2030.
[Score: good but not quite as good as the scientific evidence demands]
2. How does your party’s policy take into account the historical legacy of UK carbon emissions?
They don’t mention a historical legacy of UK carbon emissions but they are going to push for an equitable deal in which richer countries provide support to poorer nations in their efforts to combat climate change.
[Score: No specific reference, which is a shame as it is such a vital issue in reaching the equitable global agreement we so urgently need]
3. How does your party’s policy reflect the leadership required to catalyse an agreement at the UNFCCC negotiations in Paris 2015?
Well, it looks like they are going to Paris and serious about getting a legally binding deal, which is a good start, they say :
“Labour will work with our international partners in Europe and beyond to tackle the climate change threat and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the low carbon economy. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year, a Labour Government will work for a global, legally-binding and ambitious agreement to tackle climate change. We will push for global targets for reducing carbon emissions, rising every five years, with regular reviews towards the long-term goal of zero net global emissions in the latter half of this century. “
[Score: good, however the world needs to reach net zero by 2050 – the latter half of this century could be anywhere between 2015 and 2099!]
4. Does your party’s climate policy recognise that there are already more fossil fuels on the books of the big energy companies that we can safely burn – so adding more simply makes the problem worse?
They will create an Energy Security Board to plan and deliver the energy mix we need, including renewables, nuclear, green gas, carbon capture and storage, and clean coal. They will safeguard the future of the offshore oil and gas industry and provide a long-term strategy for the industry and make the most of the potential for carbon storage.
[Score: Mixed – although we will need technologies that can capture residual carbon emissions we cannot reduce, they should not be seen as an excuse to burn existing fossil fuels, and certainly not a reason to invest in adding even more fossil fules to the books – the ‘right mix’ is a mix of 100% renewable technologies]
5. How does your party’s policy rise to the challenge of achieving ‘net-zero’ emissions, as outlined in the IPCC’s 5th assessment report, and set a clear decarbonisation timeline for the UK?
[Score: good start – Decarbonisation of the electricity sector by 2030 and a long term goal of zero net global emissions by the latter half of the century.]
6. How does your climate policy recognise the massive renewable resources available in and around the UK, and the potential for jobs and economic returns in harvesting them?
The Labour Party says that there are lots of opportunities arising from the transition to a low carbon economy and want to make Britain the cutting edge of green technology and innovation. They want to overhaul Britain’s approach to energy efficiency, cut emissions and save families money. They also have plans to strengthen the Green Investment Bank with borrowing powers to support investment in small and medium businesses. And yes there it is again “we will make Britain a world leader in low-carbon technology, developing an active industrial strategy for the green economy and creating a million new green jobs, to help us win the race to the top.”
[Score: good – Although with climate change it should not be no race to the top, rather a race to take action on climate change..]