Labour pledges £7.3bn to key green industrial sectors in Party manifesto

Party leader Kier Starmer launched the manifesto this morning (13 July) at an event in Manchester, emphasising the need to kick-start economic growth post-pandemic in a manner that contributes to levelling up.

Starmer was accused by journalists of being overly cautious with the manifesto, which contains little in the way of policy interventions that have not already been publicly announced. In response, he said he did not want to make promises of initiatives with no clear funding plan.

The manifesto makes clear that scaling priority low-carbon industries is one of Labour’s major economic growth drivers. It sets out plans to spend £7.3bn on this over the next Parliament, and to bring forward both a comprehensive modern industrial strategy and a ten-year infrastructure strategy.

Steelmaking would take a £2.5bn share; £1.5bn would be allocated to Gigafactories producing electric vehicle batteries; £1.8bn would go to decarbonising ports; £1bn would be set aside for carbon capture and £500m is earmarked for green hydrogen.

For every £1 of public investment, a Labour government would expect to unlock £3 of private investment in these sectors.

The manifesto further promises an end to short funding cycles to key R&D bodies such as Innovate UK in favour of ten-year budgets.

Starmer has also pledged to cap corporation tax and publish a roadmap for business taxation over the next four years, to provide businesses with the certainty to plan ahead. To that end, a Labour government would only host one major fiscal event each year, down from two at present.

Energy transition approach

Labour has reiterated its commitment to maintain the UK’s 2050 net-zero target and bring forward an interim ambition to fully decarbonise the electricity grid from 2035 to 2030.

The manifesto stipulates that this will be possible by supporting new large-scale and small nuclear projects, quadrupling the nation’s offshore wind capacity, trebling solar capacity and doubling onshore wind capacity this decade. This is equivalent to scaling the UK’s generation capacity for offshore wind to around 60GW, onshore wind to 30GW and solar to 32GW.

In comparison, the incumbent Conservative government is targeting 50GW of offshore wind by 2030, 70GW of solar by 2035 and has no specific targets to scale onshore wind and solar, which it has sought to restrict.

The Tories want the UK to host up to 24GW of nuclear by 2050 but the Labour manifesto contains no numerical target for scaling nuclear.

There are no specific targets to scale energy storage in Labour’s manifesto, which simply references a pledge to “ensure we have the long-term energy storage our country needs”. The manifesto additionally states that the Party would “maintain a strategic reserve of gas power stations to guarantee security of supply”.

The manifesto outlines the need to upgrade the energy grid to reduce connection times and promises the creation of a new National Infrastructure and Service Transformation Authority to join up work on grid infrastructure improvements.

The Labour Party, unlike the Lib Dems or Greens, would not revoke any existing offshore oil and gas licences in the North Sea. It would not, however, issue any new licences. A Labour Government would also extend the windfall tax on oil and gas producers until the end of the next Parliament and boost the rate from 35% to 38%.

The manifesto states that “the North Sea will be managed in a way that does not jeopardise jobs, and our offshore workers will lead the world in the industries of the future”.

The jewel in the crown of Labour’s energy transition plans is the creation of Great British Energy, a publicly owned business which would invest in large and small renewable energy projects across the UK. Starmer wants to have this up and running within months, should his Party win the election.

We already knew that GB Energy would be based in Scotland and support onshore wind, solar and hydropower projects. The manifesto confirms that it would receive £8.3bn within the next Parliament.

Labour’s green policy mission statement is “to create a world free from poverty on a liveable planet”.

Other key green policy pledges in Labour’s manifesto include:

  • Investing an extra £6.6bn in home energy efficiency improvements, on top of already-planned funding
  • Reinstating a requirement for private rented properties to meet EPC C or higher, but delaying the requirement from 2028 to 2030
  • Moving the ban on new petrol and diesel car and van sales back to 2030
  • Promote the use of rail freight and accelerate rail electrification
  • Reform bus services
  • A plan to improve and promote active travel networks
  • The creation of a new international ‘Clean Power Alliance’
  • No weakening of environmental protections in efforts to fix the housing crisis
  • Nine new ‘National River Walks’
  • Three new National Forests in England
  • Restoring woodlands, forests, wetlands and peat bogs (no specific targets)
  • Publish a Land Use Framework as a priority
  • Put failing water companies under special measures
  • Give Ofwat and other regulators stronger powers on sewage pollution
  • ‘Automatic and severe fines’ for water pollution
  • Half of food purchased across the public sector to be locally produced and certified to high environmental standards

Click here for edie’s coverage of the Conservative Party manifesto. 

Click here for edie’s coverage of the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto. 

Click here for edie’s coverage of the Green Party’s manifesto.

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