Sir Keir Starmer has pledged Labour’s support to an ambitious climate target of slashing the “substantial majority” of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The Labour leader’s reticence to publicly reaffirm the commitment – inherited from Jeremy Corbyn – had sparked concern among activists that he was backing away from radical action on tackling climate change.
But, speaking to The Independent, Sir Keir said the party’s support for the pledge – which would effectively put the UK not eh path to net zero 20 years before Boris Johnson’s target – remained strong.
Asked if he stood by the 2030 pledge, Starmer said: “Absolutely. Exactly the same as was in our 2019 manifesto.
“So the ambition – and not just the ambition, the determination and the commitment – of the Labour Party on the Green New Deal is just as strong now.”
Sir Keir’s intervention comes on the eve of a two-day visit to Glasgow, aimed at highlighting Labour’s climate plans ahead of the COP26 summit in the city.
Green New Deal campaigners within Labour welcomed the announcement; 20 left-wing MPs last year wrote to Starmer to urge him to readopt the plan approved by the party in 2019.
But they warned that the plan must be backed by commitments to concrete action, like those detailed in Corbyn’s manifesto – which pledged to ensure that the transition to a green economy was born mostly by polluters and the wealthy.
‘Bold, decisive action’
Proposals included a windfall tax on oil companies, energy denationalisation, a fracking ban and stock exchange delisting for climate-unfriendly businesses.
No precise figure has been put on what “substantial majority” of emissions means – but a spokesperson for the Labour for a Green New Deal campaign group told The Independent it should mean “as close to net zero as possible”.
“A motion backing net zero by 2030 was passed at Labour Party conference, giving the leadership a clear mandate to achieve this,” they said. “The party should respect the spirit of this commitment, and work to deliver it as closely as possible.”
The LGND spokesperson added: “We welcome Keir Starmer recommitting to cut carbon emissions by 2030, but it’s urgent that he shows how he will achieve this. Meeting this goal will require bold, decisive action, and Labour’s 2019 manifesto offered a clear plan for how to do this.
“Only a Labour government can tackle the climate crisis while building a fairer, more equal society. But this will only be possible if the leadership commits to a transformative Green New Deal, built around public ownership and state investment on a huge scale.
“If the public are to have faith that Keir Starmer’s Labour Party can deliver decisive and drastic change for the sake of our climate, he must demonstrate this by committing to these policies now, not in 2024.”
Related: ‘We deserve better’: Police urge Priti Patel to increase ‘unfair’ pay