Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A disconnected list of old and new targets isn't a climate strategy

Jeremy Corbyn is set to outline his energy strategy today.  It is expected to include

Promoting 200 new publicly owned "local energy companies" by 2025 able to supply towns and cities across the UK.
Encouraging 1,000 new "community energy co-operatives", backed by state funding to pay for connection to the National Grid.
Insulating four million homes to high energy efficiency standards
Phasing out coal-fired power stations by the early 2020s
Restoring the Climate Change Department
Supporting plans to plant 64 million trees in next 10 years

It is good that Jeremy Corbyn appears to be putting together a more coherent approach to the environment. But it is still a hotch-potch with little that is new. Indeed much is old. We need to be much bolder and more innovative.  


Coal-fired generators are due to be phased out by 2025 under this Tory government plans, so not a lot new there. There is very little on how we enhance renewable, although planting trees goes a long way. However, we need to see where, when and how these trees could be planted. 
Home Insulation is way behind targets despite government support. Estimates by the Committee on Climate Change in 2014 suggested that 4.5 million cavity walls remained un-insulated, 10 million easy-to-treat lofts could benefit from additional insulation and 7 million solid walls were still without any insulation.What we need to see is the detail on how to make progress on the targets. Setting targets just isn't working.
Restoring the Climate Change department is good, and necessary, but isn't a great leap forward. It speaks more of how important climate change is than putting forward a clear strategy on dealing with climate change.  It is more politics than substance. 
I give Jeremy marks for effort, but the real problem from a global point of view is that the UK has been 'meeting' its targets for emissions largely by exporting manufacturing abroad to China and India. If we took account of the pollution of our imports then we are doing very badly. Tackling this will need a substantial revival of UK manufacturing with an emphasis on environmentally clean production. I see nothing here on that. However, if this is tackled in the overall economic strategy, then we could really be making new ground.
What I want to see from Labour is not just the targets but how it would be done. The last manifesto was pitifully weak on this. It is time we began to put flesh on the old bones that keep being put forward. Yes, we need more home insulation, but how best can we meet the targets? Yes we need our consumption to be 'clean' but how do we do that when we export our polution to China and India. We need a new manufacturing strategy that promotes clean production in the UK. Labour has time to develop a coherent strategy for the next election, but I don't see it  presented here by Jeremy Corybn. Marks 6/10.

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