General election: Labour abandons climate change plan for net-zero emissions by 2030


Labour has dropped a radical plan to end the UK’s contributions to climate change by 2030 and will stick to a target of achieving it “well before 2050”.

Activists passed a motion at the party’s conference in September to dramatically speed up the date for net zero carbon emissions – pushing for inclusion in the general election manifesto.

But Barry Gardiner, Labour’s shadow trade secretary, said that 2030 target would apply only to efforts to decarbonise power production.

“What we will be doing is that we will have our power sector 90 per cent powered by renewables by 2030,” he said.

“That is absolutely in line with achieving the overall target that we have set to make sure that, well before 2050, we have achieved the net zero.”

The decision will anger a growing Labour grassroots group, which has announced a campaign to persuade the public to vote for the 2030 target – on the expectation it would be in the manifesto.

The activists believed they had struck an achievable compromise, which spoke of a “path” to net-zero emissions in just 11 years’ time with the support of most trade unions.

However, the key GMB union, which represents workers in the energy sector, remained opposed, fearing rapid timeframe would put jobs in jeopardy.

Many saw the 2030 target as impossible, because it would involve huge intervention to replace fossil fuel power plants and petrol and diesel cars, as well as millions of household gas boilers.

However, Labour’s manifesto is still likely to go far further than the Conservatives’, who have been criticised for setting the 2050 legal commitment without announcing any measures to achieve it.

As well as a dramatic shift to renewable energy, Jeremy Corbyn’s party is expected to eradicate all sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles far quicker than the government’s 2040 date.

The motion had appeared to give Mr Corbyn some wriggle room, by saying his government should “work towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, guaranteeing an increase in good unionised jobs”.

It said Labour would only be “implementing this target into law if it achieves a just-transition for workers”.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s business spokeswoman, later muddied the waters further, by tweeting: “Our manifesto will set out a pathway towards net zero by 2030.

“I look forward to setting out these plans in more detail over this campaign. Nothing less than our collective future is at stake.”

However, The Independent understands the manifesto is likely to set only a plan to make “substantial” progress towards net zero emissions by 2030, rather than the target itself.

However, the Labour leadership signalled the climbdown at the weekend after Mr Corbyn's Instagram page posted an image of the slogan “carbon neutral by 2030 only with Labour”.

After the party was challenged if this meant that a firm 2030 commitment had been written into the election manifesto, the post was quickly deleted.

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