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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Response from the Labour Party Front Bench on climate change & Trident

Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you for your email regarding the threat of climate change, and Labour’s policy on Trident.

Labour is committed ensuring that, domestically and globally, Britain plays a leading role in fighting climate change. The next Labour government will pursue an ambitious a ten year plan to make Britain a world-leader in green technology.

Climate change is real, man-made and happening, and tackling it is one of the greatest challenges facing Britain and the world today. All of the forecasts say that over the coming years and decades, we are looking at more extreme weather, with more severe droughts, and more severe flooding.

The last Labour government led the world with our Climate Change Act, committing the UK to legally binding emissions reduction targets, building consensus around action at home and abroad. Britain’s new technology and energy industries put us at the cutting edge of innovation in exciting new technologies like carbon capture and storage, offshore wind and tidal energy. But our competitive edge is being eroded under David Cameron’s Government. Since 2010, investment in large clean energy projects has fallen and we are investing less than half the amount we need to each year to meet our emissions targets.

Despite David Cameron’s promise that his would be the ‘greenest government ever’, he has prioritised shale gas while deterring investment in low-carbon energy; shackled the Green Investment Bank by denying it borrowing powers; weakened the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) on energy efficiency; and appointed a climate change sceptic as Environment Secretary.

The Tories believe there is a trade-off between protecting British jobs and tackling climate change, but they are wrong. The global market for green technology is currently worth £3.4 trillion a year and growing, and countries that move first will become world leaders.

Labour is committed to ensuring the UK wins the race to create and sell solutions which enable the transition to a low carbon global economy, creating one million additional high technology jobs by 2025. That means making Britain the most attractive place in the world to invest in low-carbon technologies, by setting a legal target to remove the carbon from our electricity supply by 2030 and developing an active industrial strategy for the green economy. We will unshackle the Green Investment Bank and give it borrowing powers so it can invest in the technologies and industries of the future.

Our plan is to adapt our homes, businesses and infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and build resilience to the effects of climate change. So we will insulate 5 million homes over the next ten years, reducing households’ energy bills, making homes warmer and cutting carbon emissions. To do this, we will devolve the delivery of energy efficiency to city-regions, local authorities and communities. And to improve our resilience, we are looking at how we can prioritise upfront investment such as flood protection.

Climate change is a global issue that requires global action. By providing international leadership, through the EU and globally, the UK can help to ensure an effective and enforceable agreement to cut global carbon emissions is in effect by 2020. So Labour will support an ambitious, legally-binding international agreement on climate change at the Paris Conference in 2015.

If you would like to share your ideas to reduce carbon emissions, build our resilience to climate change and seize the opportunities that green technologies present, please make a submission to our Living Standards and Sustainability Policy Commission.

Regarding the separate issue of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, the Labour Party believes in working toward a world free of nuclear weapons. That’s why, in government, we reduced the number of deployed missiles and warheads on British Vanguard submarines, and took a lead internationally on global anti-proliferation. A Labour government would work with the United States and other allies for multilateral disarmament, and to advance the objective of ‘Global Zero’. The non-proliferation conference in 2015 will be a key moment to make progress on global disarmament and anti-proliferation, and we want to make the most of this opportunity.

The nuclear deterrent is an issue which evokes passionate views on all sides, but we believe that now is not the time for unilateralism. As long as we live in an uncertain world in which other nations possess nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation remains a deep concern, it is right that the UK retains its own deterrent, while seeking multilateral commitments to disarmament and anti-proliferation.

Labour has said that we are committed to the minimum credible independent nuclear deterrent, which we believe is best delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent. It would require a substantial body of evidence for us to change that belief, and the Government’s recent Trident Alternatives Review does not appear to offer such evidence. We will continue to look at ways in which that minimal credible deterrent can be delivered most efficiently and with the greatest cost effectiveness.

The nuclear deterrent was discussed by Labour’s National Policy Forum last year, and also by our Britain’s Global Role Policy Commission. It is an important issue which will continue to be discussed through the Labour Party's policy making structures.

With kind regards,

On behalf of the Labour Party