Labour’s landslide: Reaction from the environment community

Labour’s not unexpected landslide victory at the polls on Thursday means the UK has undergone a change in government  for the first time in 14 years.

During the brief period of campaigning that the snap election allowed, Keir Starmer disappointed many in climate and environmental circles by failing to move as far away from Tory policies as they felt he should. So this morning we examine the reaction to Labour’s significant victory, a reaction we might describe as ‘cautious optimism.’

This page will continue to be updated during the day.

Jane Burston, Chief Executive Officer of Clean Air Fund: ‘Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to our health. It is associated with up to 40,000 early deaths per year in the UK, costing the NHS up to £20 billion annually. Reaching World Health Organization interim targets for air quality could boost the UK economy by £1.6bn annually.

‘Air pollution is a key public health concern in the UK. Stronger, better enforced laws on air quality have widespread support, and should be integrated into the new government’s approach to public health and net zero.

‘Cleaning our air is an opportunity to solve some of our biggest health and climate problems at the same time. By introducing a Clean Air Act, the government will put equity and community at the heart of its policy making, improve health outcomes, reduce inequalities and support economic growth. We look forward to working with the new government to bring this world-leading legislation to life.

‘On the global stage, the UK also has a unique opportunity to champion clean air as it works to advance global health, climate change mitigation and sustainable economic development.’

Stuart Lemmon, CEO of climate change consultancy EcoAct: ‘This result is a real opportunity for the UK to reclaim its leadership in the global race to net-zero and demonstrates the strong appetite within the country for impactful climate policy. The incoming government has secured a strong mandate on climate and Ed Miliband’s commitment to ‘seize the moment on climate’ and the creation of a new Labour Office for Net-Zero are indeed promising steps forward.

‘However, just as businesses are held to clear standards to develop specific and credible climate transition plans, the government must also progress from promises to providing a robust, actionable roadmap to make net-zero possible by 2050. We need a shift from words and policies to delivery and collaboration, with the government offering a clear blueprint for companies to follow, rather than placing the onus of decarbonisation solely on businesses.

‘The challenge isn’t just in tackling carbon emissions; the country urgently needs frameworks and guidelines for adaptation, nature protection, and biodiversity, areas that have been neglected thus far. Government policies must not only support but also incentivise corporate transition efforts, offering clear directives and ambitious subsidies for nature-positive and green investments. With 2030 just around the corner, the government must create an environment where transitioning is not just feasible but is actively progressing and aligned with international climate goals.’

Sam Hall, Director of the Conservative Environment Network (on X): These look set to be awful results for Conservatives. We’ll comment more tomorrow, but it’s clear the PM’s strategy of downplaying green issues hasn’t turned round the party’s fortunes. To rebuild, we have to offer a positive conservative vision on the environment again.

Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy: ‘With Labour seemingly on course to secure a huge majority, let’s hope this signals the end of a disastrous fourteen years of dither, delay and retreat that defined the Conservative brand of environmentalism. Labour’s plans for climate and nature are far stronger than its predecessor’s, but need to go further still if we’re to get the country back on course for meeting crucial targets.

‘If the exit poll is to be believed, then the party must not rest on its laurels, and remember that it has been elected on a ticket promising change. With such a huge mandate, it should feel emboldened to bring in truly progressive policies.

‘The good news is that many of the solutions to the interlinked crises we face, in the way of climate and nature, the economy, and our crumbling health system, are one and the same. Labour must now seize the huge opportunities that investment in green growth can bring, such as lower bills, healthier, happier communities, hundreds of thousands of new jobs in clean industries and a safer planet for future generations.’

Mark Chapman, Founder of Zero Carbon Forum: ‘Today, the UK has voted for a new government. Labour has committed to clean power and pledged to decarbonise the power system by 2030, which is a positive and necessary step. However, the energy transition will reduce about half of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

‘The other half can only be addressed by transforming to a regenerative food system and adopting a circular approach to how we make and use products and materials. The food and drink industry, which accounts for 35% of the UK’s carbon emissions, requires rapid and deep emissions reductions if we are to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. The impact of climate change and extreme weather is already being felt by the hospitality and brewing industry, through higher energy costs, interrupted supply chains, and unpredictable sales.

‘At Zero Carbon Forum, we’re working with over a third of the UK’s hospitality and brewing sector to drive the changes we need to ensure our restaurants, bars and pubs can be enjoyed for generations to come. We are running as fast as we can, but the government plays a critical role in lowering the barriers and unlocking the opportunities that climate action presents. There is more to do than just an energy transition. We ask the government to support the food and drink industry across the value chain.

‘We hope the incoming government recognises the importance of a regenerative, net-zero food and drink industry and commits to delivering sustainable, long-term outcomes that support a prosperous and resilient UK.’

Paul Day
Paul is the editor of Public Sector News.


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