Labour pledges to put transport at heart of ‘green industrial revolution’

The Labour Party has pledged to put transport at the top of the agenda as part of its plans for a ‘green industrial revolution’ when it next enters government.

The shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald yesterday stressed Labour’s commitment to tackling climate change as he outlined the approach the party would take if it were in power.

Giving a keynote speech at the Institute for Transport yesterday, McDonald said that Labour would look to encourage public transport use, bringing trains and buses back under public control and offering free bus travel to under-25s.

According to McDonald, Labour would also innovate the UK’s transport infrastructure with the railways at the forefront – investing in ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV), completing HS2, electrifying the railways and expanding the existing railway network.

In his speech, McDonald said: ‘Transport is the UK’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and the worst performing sector when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.

‘Labour will align the priorities of the Department for Transport with our commitment to tackle climate change. We will put an end to a Department that only plays lip service to climate change, and instead will ensure it puts at its core our moral responsibility to cut emissions and allocates departmental spending as if climate change really matters.’

The announcement, which also includes the introduction of a new Clean Air Act, forms part of Labour’s ‘green industrial revolution’ strategy which would see a huge investment in moving the UK towards a zero-carbon economy by 2050.

McDonald said that Labour would set a carbon budget consistent with the Paris Agreement on climate change, with each transport sector – rail, road, aviation and maritime – having carbon reduction targets in line with that budget.

Regarding aviation, Labour has also guaranteed that any expansion to a UK airport – such as Heathrow’s sixth terminal – must address noise issues, protect air quality, meet the UK’s climate obligations and support national growth before it would be authorised.

‘The next Labour government intends to drive a Green Industrial Revolution,’ McDonald concluded. ‘Transport, and the railway, in particular, was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution. And so those greenest forms of transport with the railway at the forefront, are critical to our plans for a Green Industrial Revolution.’

The announcement came the day after the Department for Transport announced its strategy for future mobility across the UK’s cities.

The DfT’s Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy outlined how it plans to use tech to make transport greener and more efficient, including regulations for new vehicles such as e-scooters.

The government published its Clean Air Strategy this past January and is set to finalise its flagship Environment Bill later this spring.