Labour to ‘commit’ to circular economy

Keir Starmer launched the Labour manifesto in Manchester today, in which the party has pledged £1 billion to “accelerate” the deployment of carbon capture and £500 million to supporting the deployment of green hydrogen.

The party has said it will invest in carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and marine energy, through a new Energy Independence Act.

Labour has also said it will “secure” the UK aviation industry’s long-term future, partly through the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

Climate action

Another pledge is the setup of the Clean Power Alliance, which plans to bring together a coalition of countries at the “cutting-edge” of climate action, “accelerating the energy transition” and “enhancing clean energy supply chains”. The party said that it plans to “delivery security” with cheaper, zero-carbon electricity by 2030.

In a comment about wider environmental issues, the manifesto said: “We cannot address the urgency of the climate and nature crisis without co-ordinated global action. A failure to act will cause environmental devastation, fuelling displacement, conflict and famine. By being climate leaders at home, including meeting our agreed targets, Labour will restore the strong global leadership needed to tackle the climate crisis.”

Labour also said – somewhat vaguely – that it is committed to reducing waste by moving to a circular economy.

Samantha Harding, executive director at Reloop, said: “It’s really positive to see Labour committing to a circular economy as the best way to reduce waste and pollution. If Labour form the new government in July, they have the perfect opportunity to start delivering on that, by introducing the planned deposit return system on schedule by October 2027. Without this proven circular economy measure, our recycling levels will continue to flat-line while litter levels rise.”

Libby Peake, head of resources at Green Alliance said: “The Labour Party is right to commit to a more circular economy – the public want it and it is desperately needed to meet our legally-binding climate and nature commitments. But the reality today is that waste is wired in to every part of the economy: and so the UK’s material footprint is more than double what the science says is sustainable, and getting worse. A target to more than halve the UK’s material footprint is needed to focus minds.”

Jane Martin, CEO of City to Sea, said: “Britain’s waterways, green spaces and cities are littered with plastic, but the word sadly isn’t mentioned in Labour’s 133 page manifesto. This general election could be a turning point, a moment for definitive action, but, today, the Labour Party has made only a vague quasi commitment to ‘reduce waste by moving to a circular economy’.

“Recent research carried out amongst UK consumers found three-quarters agreed it should be a government priority to tackle plastic pollution, but no party seems to be listening.

“Across the board, from the main parties this week we have seen a set of watered-down mentions around plastic and reuse but it’s clear to see, no one has taken a stand on the plastic problem. Where are the commitments to plastic bans, the quick implementation of an “all-in” Deposit Return Scheme and the transition away from single-use packaging to refill and reuse? What we need is definitive action and a set of ambitious, legally binding targets.”

Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, said: “The pledges have avoided committing to real solutions to the plastic crisis, or any solutions at all. The Liberal Democrats are the only party to reference the plastic crisis but have clung to recycling policies, essentially putting a plaster on a gaping wound. Meanwhile the Labour Party and Conservatives have failed to mention plastic in their manifestos altogether, as if the plastic crisis is invisible to them.

“We need to address the root of the problem, not just its symptoms. Solutions exist, and it’s time for legislation to back them and provide businesses with the certainty they need.

“However, without any sign of serious commitments to plastic bans, these manifestos do not even offer us the hope of being let down. They fail to rise to the challenge from the offset.”

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said: “We’re pleased to see Labour committing to several policy steps to champion the renewable and clean technology sectors.

The REA stands ready to support Labour during this election campaign and beyond, to ensure the substantial benefits of a well-planned and executed energy transition are realised on behalf of the UK’s growth. Enough talk, let’s get moving.”

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