Labour conference commits party to 2030 net-zero carbon target

Sienna Rodgers

Labour conference has approved a policy motion committing the party to working “towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030” – a proposal that has received backing from Rebecca Long-Bailey and Unite the Union.

A Labour spokesperson said: “Labour now has the most ambitious net zero plans in the world. Conference agreed that these should be achieved through massive investment in infrastructure and skills, public ownership of key utilities and supporting climate transition in the global south.

“Labour’s plans for a Green New Deal will bring about a green industrial revolution which is bold, credible and has climate justice at its heart.”

The composite motion carried this afternoon was moved by the Fire Brigades Union, which supported the Labour for a Green New Deal campaign group in its drive to make Labour’s target more ambitious.

During the compositing process, the aim of the more ambitious motion stayed at 2030 but was changed from “zero” to “net zero”, in a bid to secure more support from trade unions.

Although motions passed by conference do not always make it into the next manifesto – even if they form part of the ‘party programme’ after getting two-thirds of votes on the conference floor – Labour has confirmed that it supports both of the Green New Deal motions approved today.

‘Composite 17’, Labour’s Socialist Green New Deal, states that in power Labour will: “In collaboration with the trade unions and the scientific community, work towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, guaranteeing an increase in good unionised jobs in the UK, and the cost of which would be borne by the wealthiest not the majority; and implementing this target into law if it achieves a just-transition for workers.”

It also says the party in government would introduce a total ban on fracking, take the Big Six into public ownership, repeal anti-union laws to allow workers to take action on climate change, and welcome climate refugees, amongst other moves.

The vast majority of local party delegates voted for the motion, as did Unite, CWU, ASLEF, Bakers Union, TSSA and FBU. It was supported by Corbynite group Momentum as one of its key policies for conference – in addition to a four-day week and the abolition of private schools, which have also been successful.

Commenting on the result, Momentum spokesperson Laura Parker said: “We’re delighted that the Momentum-backed Green New Deal has been endorsed by Labour.

“Our party has united around a bold, socialist Green New Deal that will create tens of thousands of good, green jobs across the country, usher in a new era of public luxury for all and welcome climate refugees who have been forced from their homes.

“In the face of a monumental crisis we must be bold and ambitious. We are the last generation who can stop climate breakdown and build a society that works for the many. And now Labour has a plan to do just that.”

Lauren Townsend, trade unionist and spokesperson for Labour for a Green New Deal, said: “Environmental breakdown is a class issue which requires working class solutions. The labour movement has voted to take leadership on the climate emergency with a response which puts people and planet before profit. Now the ambition has been set, it is time for our movement to come together to build a Green New Deal from the ground up in every town, village and city.”

Below is the full text of the Labour’s Socialist Green New Deal motion.

Conference notes:

  • To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we must keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C.
  • Over 1°C of warming has taken place, causing floods, droughts, heatwaves, pollution, and hundreds of thousands of deaths. The poorest suffer most.
  • Just 100 companies are responsible for the majority of carbon emissions; and the Conservative government is deregulating the fossil fuel industry and cutting support for renewables.
  • Labour has supported the youth strikes for climate and Extinction Rebellion, pushing the climate emergency up the national agenda.
  • The UK has accrued wealth since industrialisation through disproportionately high emissions, while the poor, the global south, and women suffer the greatest climate impacts. Domestically and internationally: Social, economic and gender justice is inextricable from climate justice.
  • Combining decarbonisation with a progressive restructuring of the economy gives us the possibility to both create green jobs and fight the threat of climate chaos.

Conference believes:

  • The cost of decarbonisation must be borne by the wealthiest not the poorest.
  • Decarbonisation could produce thousands of well-paid, skilled jobs in renewables and the supply chain. This will be based on public ownership and democratic control.
  • In a workers-led ‘just transition’ from high-emission jobs to alternatives; public investment guaranteeing communities and living standards.
  • A Green New Deal is therefore now a demand we must make.

Conference therefore calls on the Labour Party to include a Green New Deal in the manifesto: a state-led programme of investment and regulation, based on public ownership and democratic control, for the decarbonisation and transformation of our economy that reduces inequality and pursues efforts to keep global average temperature rises below 1.5°C.

In power Labour will:

  • In collaboration with the trade unions and the scientific community, work towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, guaranteeing an increase in good unionised jobs in the UK, and the cost of which would be borne by the wealthiest not the majority; and implementing this target into law if it achieves a just-transition for workers.
  • Introduce a complete ban on fracking.
  • Oversee a just transition, increasing the number of well-paid, unionised green jobs in the UK through: public ownership of energy, creating an integrated, democratic system; public ownership of the Big Six; large-scale investment in renewables and low-carbon energy.
  • Repeal all anti-union laws, facilitating worker-led activism over social and political issues, including climate change.
  • Address regional economic imbalances and areas of deprivation.
  • Ensure the costs of decarbonisation are borne by the wealthiest through progressive taxation, not working people and their families.
  • Take transport into public ownership and invest in expanded, integrated, free or affordable green public transport that connects Britain, including: rail electrification; continued support for high-speed rail, because of the additional capacity that it will create for rail freight on the West Coast Mainline, removing polluting HGVs and other vehicles from roads; the transition to sustainably powered rail freight; creation of rail freight interchanges; o community transport; investment in electric buses that can reconnect local communities; integrated public transport timetabling; local schemes that make walking and active travel safe, attractive, environmentally sustainable options, benchmarked against European practice; o a radical car scrappage scheme to increase electric vehicles.
  • Tackle fuel poverty and assure everyone’s basic rights through the provision of universal services.
  • A radical programme to up skill the UK workforce to develop, manufacture and manage the greening of the UK.
  • Building and retrofitting of zero-carbon social and council housing and public buildings with lowest possible embedded carbon in construction.
  • Support developing countries’ climate transitions through free or cheap transfers of finance, technology and capacity.
  • Welcome climate refugees while taking measures against the displacement of peoples from their homes.
  • Promote the international exchange of technology, expertise, products, resources and services to learn from and help other countries achieve a Green New Deal.
  • Implement a programme of ecological restoration to increase biodiversity and natural carbon sequestration.
  • Measure and tackle consumption emissions, not just those produced on UK soil.
  • Work collaboratively with farmers to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector.
  • Press for heavy UN penalties on “ecocide” damage to climate-sensitive habitats internationally.

Fire Brigades Union
Heywood and Middleton CLP

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