By Josie Demuth

The Labour Party is driving forward a set of environmental policies that link social issues like housing, jobs and transport into a large array of progressive green interventions. 

If this sounds a little familiar, that’s because these kinds of policies are currently making big waves in the U.S., where Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has put her own multi-faceted ‘Green New Deal’ on the table, ambitiously declaring that it will lead to the U.S. becoming carbon neutral within ten years. Despite much inevitable criticism across the political spectrum, AOC’s bold thinking has gained ground, with huge swathes of the U.S. population being shown to agree with her in principle. At home, it would appear Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has also taken an interest in the increasingly influential democrat’s policies, phoning her up recently to hear about her movement.   

Although there are clear echoes of the U.S. framework, Labour’s ‘Green Transformation’ outlines plans for a drastic, but not full, carbon cut: 60% of the UK’s energy will be from either low-carbon or renewable sources after ten years of being in government. But, like AOC, the proposal recognises that there needs to be a substantial overhaul of our infrastructure and rebalancing of our economy if such a reduction is going to happen.  

The creation of jobs within renewable industries is seen as key to how we tackle the climate crisis, and the framework offers practical steps forward. Not only does the policy look at investing in renewable projects such as wind and solar, it also describes working alongside the party backbone, the Unions, to ensure that secure green jobs are in turn made available. The unions can then support workers within carbon-heavy industries throughout the transition.

Another area of note is plans to bring energy transmission and distribution networks back into public ownership, a move that will no doubt rattle private owners, some of which are banking juggernauts able to sell these networks on for billions. Tying in with all of this is, of course, Labour’s long-term pledge to renationalise public transport alongside the introduction of ‘a new Clean Air Act to deal with the Tory legacy of illegal air quality’. 

More locally, Council Leader, Peter Chowney, recently proposed a radical climate change motion to make Hastings completely carbon neutral (Green New Deal-style) by 2030. The motion was seconded by Cllr Maya Evans – who helped to compile the motion with Cllr Chowney, Cllr Bishop, and Julia Hilton of the Green party – and was passed unanimously on Wednesday 13th February. Evans agrees the new Labour climate policies are very much about regaining public control over our infrastructure. “There’s the issue of removing the economic power which big fossil fuel corporations have traditionally held over the global market, and indeed within politics,” she tells me. “They have had incredible influence in lobbying Government and pressurising them into nonsensical decisions; recent examples are the Tories banning onshore wind-generated energy, as well as feed-in tariffs – this in effect is a massive bolstering up of the fossil fuel industry. Then there are other financial decisions, such as MP Amber Rudd’s, when she was Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, to prioritise fracking as “nationally significant infrastructure” –perhaps that has something to do with the massive donations the Tories gain from fracking companies? Part of the Green Transformation is about removing that kind of power and influence from unscrupulous corporations and redistributing it to (preferably) local authority-led renewable energy companies, and I’m proud to say that Hastings Borough Council is currently in the process of doing just that. Once the Hastings renewable energy company is up and running we will be able to provide clean and affordable energy to the citizens of Hastings, with a priority of energy given to the poorest households.”

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