Labour manifesto: Red Ed goes green with energy policy

Labour released its election manifesto on Monday, reaffirming bold pledges on climate change and decarbonising the UK energy supply, but a conspicuous lack of waste-related policy.

Launching the manifesto in Manchester, Labour leader Ed Miliband said it does not lay out a “shopping list of proposals”, but rather seeks to answer the questions that the public is asking.

But does it answer the questions that sustainability professionals have been asking? Here’s a summary of the key points for green business: – 


Labour plans to decarbonise the electricity supply by 2030, and embark on a “major drive for energy efficiency”.

An Energy Security Board will be established to oversee these targets and deliver “the energy mix we need, including renewables, nuclear, green gas, carbon capture and storage, and clean coal”.

ABDA chief executive Charlotte Morton said the commitment to green gas was “hugely welcome”.

“Alongside the commitment to a target for decarbonising our electricity supply by 2030, it represents a strong commitment to low carbon energy,” she said.


For onshore ‘unconventional’ oil and gas, (read: fracking) Labour said it will establish a “robust” environmental and regulatory regime before extraction can take place.

It also promised to create a long-term strategy for the oil and gas industry, including more certainty on tax rates and “making the most of the potential for carbon storage“.


While welcoming the energy promises, ADBA’s Morton also highlighted the absence of any waste or resource-related policy.

“To maximise the potential contribution from biogas, the party will need to go further on their resources policy, by helping councils and businesses segregate food waste and ensure it is available for anaerobic digestion,” she said.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Barry Gardiner recently promised that a Labour Government “will put resource security at the heart of its total economic vision“. He also hinted that Labour would back an Office for Resource Management, something which several lobby groups have called for.

Green economy

Labour said it will end investor uncertainty with a timetable for the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to be given additional powers so that it can invest in green businesses and technology.

The GIB recently launched its first offshore wind fund, marking the bank’s first move into asset management and the first time it has managed private capital since its formation. It also recently expanded its investment portfolio into India and Africa, but it still lacks the ability to borrow from the private sector to fund new projects.

Combined with its energy targets, Labour said it expects make Britain a “world leader in low carbon technologies over the next decade, creating a million additional green jobs”.

Climate change

Labour pledged to put climate change “at the heart of foreign policy”, calling it the “most important thing we can do for our children”.

Referencing the IPCC’s findings, the manifesto said global emissions need to peak by 2020, and be net-zero by 2050. To reach this target, Labour is calling for an emissions cap for all countries at Paris 2015, which should be strengthened every five years based on progress towards the 2C warming target.

The manifesto also committed the UK to a strong role within the EU, something which MPs from all parties have said is vital to establishing a climate change deal in Paris. Even discussing a European exit would be a “disaster”, according to Energy Minister Ed Davey.


Despite these strong pledges on climate change, mitigation alone is not enough, according to Labour. The party pledged to produce an ambitious domestic adaptation programme, prioritising investment in flood prevention and giving local authorities “the powers they need” to tackle air pollution.

Both flood prevention and air pollution – particularly in London – are regarded as areas the current Government has failed to address.

Natural capital

Labour also addressed the country’s diminishing natural capital and dwindling green spaces.

“We will support the work of the Natural Capital Committee to protect and improve wildlife habitats and green spaces, and make them an important part of our thriving tourism industry”, said the manifesto.

A sentence at the end of the International Development section promises that Labour will “work with companies to ensure they have sustainable supply chains that are free from slavery, treat their workers fairly, and pay taxes where they are due”.

 Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie