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  • Writer's pictureWiltshire Wildlife

Why is the Labour Party shooting itself in the foot on climate change?

Originally shared on LinkedIn on 20th February 2024


"2023 heralded a record year for small-scale green energy and heat installations like rooftop solar and heat pumps, with more than 220,000 installations registered overall. It seems that there is a groundswell of interest in making our homes cleaner and greener amongst the general public, and indeed it would appear amongst our MPs that it is also gaining currency.


Growing support for mandatory solar


A new YouGov survey commissioned by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) Foundation found four out of five MPs support making solar panels mandatory on all new-build homes.  The survey revealed that 83% of Labour MPs and 73% of Conservative MPs polled believe solar panels should be incorporated into all new builds by 2025, while an average of 61% of those quizzed also agreed battery storage systems should come as standard. The poll comes as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities continues to consult on how the government should deliver its new Future Homes and Future Buildings Standards, with the consultation process set to close on March 6th.


Updating regulations for new-build homes presents a key opportunity to boost renewable energy capacity in the UK and lock in low energy bills for homeowners.  Everyone wins from effectively making solar power mandatory, delivering lower bills for households - adopting solar on a larger scale would save new-build homeowners between £910 to £2,120 per year, according to the government consultation - and greater energy security for us all, as well as supporting the nation’s progress towards net zero by reducing our reliance on alternative power sources. Last year, Swindon Council set out its plan to get 300 panels on roofs by 2025, one of several councils to launch similar initiatives.


The latest U-turn from Labour


I relate all this information about the growing acceptance of renewables and the fact that green issues, in general, are dominating voter’s minds because it flies in the face of Labour’s recent announcements. I am baffled as to why the party has scrapped its pledge to pour £28bn into a green prosperity fund.  I’m still unsure if it was the green bit that spooked them – after losing the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election - or the prosperity bit, having now seen the calamitous economic inheritance they are likely to be gifted by the Conservatives.  Whatever the catalyst, it was because the sum was so eye wateringly large that it was seen as a major retail offer for voters already warmed up (if you excuse the pun) towards investing more in renewables, easing planning, building more solar-powered homes, and improving the EV charging infrastructure.


“I’m still unsure if it was the green bit that spooked them – after losing the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election - or the prosperity bit, having now seen the calamitous economic inheritance they are likely to be gifted by the Conservatives.” 

JULIAN BARLOW – Chair WWCE


An own goal for the opposition?


In other words, it didn’t appear to be a tough sell, yet they have abandoned it in all but name, much to the dismay of the Great British public. A survey for Nature 2030 conducted immediately following the news found that more than half think Keir Starmer is making the wrong call. This was an open goal for Labour. The arguments for the Green Prosperity Plan are straightforward - Britain needs rebuilding. Britain needs more investment. Britain needs higher productivity. So why rip it up? If that was the budget required - and Jürgen Maier, the former UK head of Siemens suggests it was the bare minimum - to deliver genuinely green initiatives which have the support of the majority of MPs and the voters they represent, I fail to see how chopping it by a whopping 80% is going to do anyone any good at all…”


Julian Barlow is chair of Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy 

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