Britain’s biggest opposition party has pledged to spend up to £ 28 billion every year this decade to  strip carbon out of the UK’s economy, if voters return it to power.

In today’s hour-long speech, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer endorsed headline pledges on decarbonisation revealed on Monday to the party’s Brighton conference by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Insulating Britain’s homes, described by Starmer as ‘Europe’s leakiest’, stands at the head of the would-be government’s ambitions.

Labour’s mission over the next decade would be “to fit out every home that needs it, to make sure it is warm, well-insulated and costs less to heat” Starmer said, promising to create thousands of jobs in the process.

A Clean Air Act would be enacted, and all government actions would have to meet a “net zero test”.

Starmer spoke after insulation expert Jonathan Volt of the Brussels-based Buildings Performance Institute Europe cast doubt on his ‘Europe’s leakiest homes’ claim.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s “More or Less” this morning, Volt concluded that, on the basis of Energy Performance Certificates introduced across the EU from 2002, Britain’s housing stock was in the bottom four or five by ranking, but probably not the leakiest.  At 31 %, Britain’s share of pre-1945 housing is Europe’s highest, said Volt.

In Brighton, Starmer said Labour in government would bring forward a Green New Deal, including a climate investment pledge to put Britain back on track to cut what Starmer called “the substantial majority” of emissions this decade.

Labour would set a target to invest a minimum of 3% of GDP to make Britain a world leader in science and R&D, Starmer said.

Hailing the next generation of new deep-sea wind turbines as a major opportunity, Starmer bemoaned that none of the 150 to be erected onshore at ScottishRenewables’ 539 MW Whitelee farm straddling Lanarkshire and Ayrshire was built in Britain.

“If only we funded science seriously we could make a historic contribution to the battle against climate change,” Starmer declared.

“Action is needed. Not in the future, but now.  If we delay action by a decade the costs of climate transition will double”.

On Monday, Reeves had promised to be “a responsible Chancellor, and Britain’s first green Chancellor”.

Increasing to 12% the digital services levy on online companies would be among measures funding capital investment of £ 28 billion each year until 2030, directed at greening the economy and fostering environmental businesses, Reeves declared.

She identified as priorities “giga-factories building batteries for EVs; a thriving hydrogen industry; offshore wind turbines made in Britain;; keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down”.

The Conservatives’ conference opens in Manchester on 3 October.


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