Environment, Energy and Culture

Labour’s Vision

Labour believes that the changing climate is one of the greatest global challenges and that continued action is needed to reduce carbon emissions to tackle global temperature increases. We need a renewed worldwide effort to tackle climate change following the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015.

We must ensure a fair transition to a low carbon economy and look at how we can drive the expansion of the green industries and promote the high-skilled jobs of the future. Our energy platform must deliver for ordinary people by curbing increases in energy prices rather than just working for the Big Six energy companies.

Leaving the European Union will mean that the United Kingdom’s current agricultural and environmental policies will face uncertainty. Labour believes in defending and extending our environmental protections currently derived from the EU and in taking action to protect the future of our planet, with social justice at the heart of our environmental policies.

Our agricultural sector must be allowed to succeed and clarity must be offered to the industry post-Brexit. Farming needs coordinated government support to encourage growth and innovation to create a world-leading sector with well-paid jobs benefiting the rural economy.

Culture and the arts continue to make a large contribution to the UK both socially and economically. Labour recognises these benefits and will increase access to leisure, the arts and sports across the country, in particular amongst under-represented groups. We must support these industries to ensure they thrive.

The issues

The National Policy Forum (NPF) has identified climate change, agriculture and the environment post-Brexit, and widening access to the arts as three key issues for the Environment, Energy and Culture Policy Commission to examine and consult on this year.

Continuing to lead in tackling global climate change

The Commission believes that climate change remains one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. It notes the important need to develop strategies to limit the rise in global temperature through the decarbonisation of our energy supply whilst continuing to meet future energy demand.

Labour has a strong record in pressing for and tackling climate change. It was a Labour Government that passed the Climate Change Act which placed in law a duty to meet carbon reduction targets every five years. Labour will continue to support the Carbon Budgets and will take action to ensure that the targets set by them are met.

Following the Paris climate deal, which was agreed by all the world’s major economies, Labour believes that we must remain committed to meeting our climate obligations including those obligations which are currently derived from the EU. The UK must not be seen to row backwards following Brexit and must continue to lead on the global stage.

Energy bills continue to rise with household bills increasing by over £300 since 2010. Labour acknowledges that the energy market is in need of reform and will act to redevelop our energy supply by making it both clean and affordable so that it can work for consumers and the environment.

By investing £500 billion in infrastructure backed up by a publicly owned National Investment Bank and regional banks we will build a high-skilled, high tech, low carbon economy to help generate a million good quality jobs.

We will invest in and deliver clean energy and curb energy bill rises for households to provide energy for the British public.

The transition to a renewable and low carbon economy presents opportunities for jobs and growth in low carbon technologies can help to reduce bills and further investment. Emerging technologies such as carbon capture and storage will help to smooth over the transition to cleaner fuels and will help to protect existing jobs as part of the future energy mix. As part of Labour’s wider low carbon strategy we will use our National Investment Bank to promote public investment and community ownership across future energy solutions.

A fully costed low carbon energy platform that includes renewables, nuclear and green gas should be developed and publicly financed options should be considered to ensure that the UK has a low carbon economy that works for consumers moving forwards.

Questions
  • How will leaving the European Union change the UK’s existing and future climate obligations?
  • Does the United Kingdom need to go further in its climate action and how would this be done?
  • What should the future renewable and low carbon energy mix of the United Kingdom look like and how will this be achieved?
  • Which industries are most at risk from the transition to ‘clean’ energy and how can jobs be preserved?
  • What is the best way to protect consumers from increases in energy bills?

Developing post-Brexit agricultural and environmental policies for the future

Brexit presents a significant challenge for the agricultural and environmental sectors. Farmers receive half of their income directly from European sources and much of our current environmental regulations are derived from Europe and are at risk of simply being scrapped by the Conservatives.

The farming and agricultural industries contribute hugely to the UK economy supporting half a million jobs and over £200 billion to the UK economy. | These sectors play a vital role in both supporting our food supply and leading on environmental stewardship initiatives.

The Tory Government has offered no serious guarantees to date about the future of agricultural support once we leave the EU; they have only committed to safeguarding farmers’ incomes until 2020. The Government has also failed to offer assurances to protect those who currently work across the sector. The Tories have failed to o er either the clarity or the long term security that the agricultural industry requires.

Much of the current environmental regulation and legislation in recent decades have originated from the EU. These regulations cover important issues including; air quality, soil quality, waste and recycling and other environmental aspects tied into the Common Agricultural Policy such as biodiversity. These environmental laws and protections should be, at a minimum, maintained at current levels and the enforcement of these protections once the UK leaves the EU should be seriously considered.

Other environmental issues such as flooding, high levels of air pollution and the fishing industry should remain Labour priorities in this area and particular attention needs to be given to the needs and concerns of rural communities.

The development of a rural and agricultural support system post-Brexit will mean a large expansion in the funding and remit of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Labour must put forward a platform that addresses the needs of today but one that is flexible enough to tackle the issues of the future.

Questions
  • How do we best replace existing European Union support and funding for a reformed UK agricultural sector?
  • How do we promote best environmental practice after Brexit and which laws will need to be strengthened or replaced?
  • Across which areas are current environmental policies currently failing and what more could be done?
  • How do we best support key industries such as fishing outside of existing EU framework?
  • What should the remit of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs look like post-Brexit?

Widening access to and delivering support for culture and the arts

Labour has a strong record in widening access to and in delivering support for culture and the arts. Last year marked 15 years since Labour scrapped museum entry fees, a landmark scheme, which saw attendance numbers substantially increase and it was a Labour Government who secured the Olympic Games in 2012.

The creative industries contributed £87.4 billion to the UK economy in 2015 and made up 5.8 per cent of the total UK workforce – totalling 1.8 million direct jobs. The importance of these industries means that we should look at how they can be given the support they need to continue to succeed, with particular attention on how best to preserve jobs and access to talent post-Brexit.

Ideas should be put forward which seek to preserve and to build upon Labour’s record of increasing access, and which recognise the importance of the arts to UK life, as a sector which plays an active role in the generation of jobs and in contributing towards the national economy along with other social benefits.

Action needs to be taken to promote the take-up by those from under-represented backgrounds of activities across the arts. Innovative measures such as a new arts pupil premium should be considered as an option to better encourage and support cultural activities across schools.

Labour also acknowledges the health benefits of regular physical activity and believes that efforts should be made to widen participation in sports and other physical activities across the country.

Digital technologies hold the key to delivering future jobs and economic growth and Labour would take steps to increase the provision of and access to superfast broadband services across the country and will ensure that people have the skills to take advantage of the digital economy.

Labour acknowledges the role played by those institutions which remain publicly owned and which continue to make large contributions towards culture and the arts across the UK. Labour will ensure that the BBC remains fully-funded and that Channel 4 remains in public ownership.

Questions
  • Which creative industries face uncertainty post-Brexit and how can these industries best be supported?
  • Where is the UK succeeding culturally and how can these successes be replicated?
  • What are the best ways to encourage participation in cultural and sporting activities across the board?
  • Which groups are most under-represented in culture and the arts and what can be done to improve access and participation for these groups?
  • How do we best support young people to get involved in cultural activities?
  • Where could the country do more to prepare for the digital economy and what strategies should be pursued to address problem areas?