Jeremy Corbyn has called on Boris Johnson to ban fracking “immediately”, as fresh research by Labour reveals that the UK’s 2050 net-zero carbon emissions target would otherwise be impossible to meet.
Ahead of a visit to energy firm Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Lancashire, where environmental activists are demonstrating, Corbyn accused the government of allowing fossil fuel companies to ignore ecological concerns in their pursuit of profit.
“Instead of bending the knee to a few corporations who profit from extracting fossil fuels from the ground, we need to change course now,” the Labour leader said. “It’s the next generation and the world’s poorest who will pay the price if this Conservative government continues to put the interests of a few polluters ahead of people.”
In his first speech to parliament as Prime Minister, Johnson promised to lead the world in delivering a carbon-neutral country by 2050, but has previously embraced the fracking boom as “glorious news for humanity”, while describing climate change as a “primitive fear” that is “without foundation”.
New analysis conducted by Labour shows that the government’s target will be impossible to reach if the UK exploits its entire shale gas reserve. Hydraulic fracturing, which blasts porous gas-bearing rocks with tons of chemicals, sand and water, has also been linked to increased risks of cancer, asthma and birth defects. Cuadrilla’s fracking site near Blackpool was repeatedly forced to suspend work for causing earth tremors that surpassed the 0.5-magnitude limit.
The Labour leader has renewed the party’s commitment to a transformative economic programme that tackles both inequality and the climate crisis.
He commented: “Tackling the climate emergency cannot be left to the free market. Labour will ban fracking and our Green Industrial Revolution will face the climate emergency head-on and leave no community behind, transforming our country’s energy supply and creating 400,000 good, well-paid jobs across the country.”
Beyond motions related to Brexit, the conference motion drafted by campaign group Labour for a Green New Deal is thought to be the most popular policy proposal among local parties.
If passed, it would mean Labour’s highest policy-making body approves of bringing the net-zero emissions target forward to 2030.
The plan for a ‘green industrial revolution’, led by John McDonnell and Rebecca Long-Bailey, could form the central plank of an early election campaign.