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Industry reacts: Labour's 2024 Manifesto

Net Zero Carbon By Alan Fogarty, Partner, Sustainability – 17 June 2024

Single wind turbine behind a bank of solar panels


Alan Fogarty in London office reception in a suit witch wooden terrace panelling for plants in background

Alan Fogarty

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As expected, Labour’s 2024 manifesto was full of ambition and promise. However, within their clean energy pledges, there is still a lack of clarity on how they plan to get there.

The party has stuck to its ambition of net zero by 2030, even though the likes of the Scottish National Party have backed away from such commitments. The idea of a clean grid by 2030 might appeal to voters, but getting there will be an expensive journey. Labour has pledged to double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030. Although (as they point out) renewable energy is less expensive than fossil fuels to generate, until we get all the infrastructure up and running, it is unlikely we will find it any less financially burdensome. The UK already has the highest energy costs in Europe, and the standing charges will exponentially increase, especially if they stick to the promise of not increasing taxes.

They identify the need for more nuclear power and will retain some gas-fired stations on standby; however, these still need to be paid for, most likely through the standing charges.

The introduction of a carbon import tax could boost demand for UK-manufactured goods, if they are affordable, which would benefit our economy by increasing GDP and creating jobs. However, this could also raise the cost of purchasing renewable infrastructure, such as solar PVs, which are primarily imported from China. The reality is that the UK does not have the capacity to manufacture renewable infrastructure on the same scale. This can slow down Labour’s plans for net zero by 2030.

One notable aspect of the Labour Party’s Warm Home Plans is their promise to double the existing government’s planned spending on upgrades, with an additional £6.6bn allocated for five million homes; that is only £1,320 per home. To put this in context, the cost of installing a heat pump is upwards of £10,000 and upgrading an envelope is between £15,000 to £20,000.

While it is great to see the likely future government remains ambitious in their goals for a net zero future, they need to be realistic on how expensive it will be to get there and who bears the cost burdens.