Will the new Labour government deliver for climate and nature?

It’s the dawn of a new era. The UK has a new government and an opportunity to set the course for a more climate and nature-friendly future. Find out what we think the government’s top priorities should be over the coming weeks and beyond.
  Published:  05 Jul 2024    |      4 minute read

After 14 years of the Conservative’s in power, we now have a newly elected Labour government.

The Conservatives have left a dire environmental legacy, with the UK’s climate and nature targets veering dangerously off track. We even took the previous government to court twice over its dangerously inadequate and unlawful climate plans (and won both times).

It’s clear that we need to see some real leadership on climate and nature. This new Labour government now has the opportunity to ramp up action, so the UK meets its crucial climate targets, and make decisions that’ll safeguard our health and wellbeing now and protect our planet for future generations.

A new era for climate and nature?

Labour made some important commitments in its manifesto:

  • Meeting the UK’s internationally agreed target to reduce carbon emissions by over two-thirds by 2030.
  • Giving local authorities more powers to deliver a fairer green transition through better public transport and local nature protection.
  • Stop granting new oil and gas licences. 
  • Seriously amp up renewables by 2030, creating jobs and cutting bills.

But there's room for improvement. The new government must transform the UK’s approach to tackling the climate and nature crises to ensure we all benefit from a fair, green, fossil-free future. We need to hold Labour accountable to those commitments.

So, what do we need from our new government?

Top focuses for the new Labour government

Withdraw support for the controversial coal mine in Cumbria

The Labour government should immediately withdraw its support for the new coal mine planned in Cumbria. The mine threatens to produce the equivalent emissions of over 5 million UK cars annually. If the new government doesn’t withdraw its support for the mine, there’ll be deep impacts on the progress towards meeting targets vital for protecting against the worst impacts of climate change.

Lift the de facto ban on onshore wind power

We need to make bold steps towards our renewable future, to secure cheaper and cleaner energy. The Labour government should lift the de facto ban on onshore wind power. Labour’s shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband committed to scrapping a ban on building new onshore wind. We’ll be watching closely to see how this plays out and applying pressure if needed.

Reverse new licences for North Sea oil

A no brainer. We need to ramp up home-grown renewable energy to make sure we have secure and affordable energy. Pushing ahead with new oil and gas fields lines the pockets of rich energy giants and do nothing to help people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis in the way of cheaper bills or ensure energy security for the UK. By prioritising renewables and energy efficiency, we'll create a more sustainable and fair energy future.

Put an end to sewage scandals

With raw sewage poured into our rivers and seas over 1,000 times a day in 2023, Labour should wipe the slate clean by making water companies, not their customers, pay for the clean-up and supporting a new legal right to a healthy environment.

Green algae bloom at the side of a lake by a wooden pontoon
Algae bloom on Lake Windermere due to sewage and hot weather
Credit: Ashley Cooper via Getty Images

Long-terms goals for a climate and nature-friendly future

While the new Labour government is a change, its manifesto still lacked ambition in key areas. There are 4 key areas that we want the new Labour government to address during its term.  

Produce an ambitious new climate plan

Following our landmark legal challenge that found the previous government’s pitiful climate plan to be unlawful, the new Labour government is legally bound to publish a new strategy to outline how the UK will meet it crucial climate targets.

The plans Labour set out before the election included some big goals, like meeting our international climate commitment to reduce emissions by two-thirds by 2030, and seriously ramping up renewables. But to achieve this, the new government will need to up its ambition and develop a bold new climate plan that sets out how it will make sectors like farming, transport and housing much greener – and we need them to commit to the investment that's needed to deliver for climate and nature at scale.

Invest in insulation to slash bills and harmful emissions

There are economic rewards to be won from taking bold and decisive action on climate and nature. A good example would be insulating the nation’s cold, damp, heat-leaking homes, which would save the UK economy billions each year through avoided NHS costs and days off work sick, while freeing up more of the public’s hard-earned cash by helping to slash heating bills.

We're calling for a total average annual investment of at least £6 billion a year over the next decade to ensure both a rapid programme of basic insulation and these deeper retrofits can be implemented.

Introduce the right to a healthy environment

We need new legislation (the Environmental Rights Act) to implement the human right to a healthy environment in law.

Enshrining the right to a healthy environment in UK law would give communities the power to hold companies and government legally accountable for their polluting activities and for improving access to the health and wellbeing benefits of green spaces and trees. 

We deserve to breathe clean air, to swim in clean seas and to have rivers that aren’t polluted by toxic farm waste and sewage.

End environmental destruction and injustices caused by major companies

We need a new law (the Business, Human Rights and Environment Act) to hold UK companies and the public sector accountable if they fail to prevent human rights abuses and environmental harm in the UK or overseas.

Environmental injustices are being felt most by marginalised communities globally. For example, in Indonesia and Brazil forests are being destroyed by UK companies. The new government should put planet over profit. They can do this by creating new laws to ensure companies prevent and pay for environmental destruction and injustices caused by their supply chains. 

In the coming weeks and months, we'll be working with supporters and communities to hold our new government accountable. We have the solutions to address the climate crisis and restore nature. We just need the bold leadership to put them in motion.

New MPs need to hear how important a healthy local environment is to their constituents. We need to make ourselves heard.