Thursday 24 October 2019 / 11:05 AM Energy / Environment / Rebecca Long Bailey

Labour welcomes report putting UK onto the path to net zero energy emissions in the 2030s

Today (Thursday), Labour welcomes an expert fast-track plan to clean up the UK’s energy system.

At Labour Party Conference 2019, motions were adopted calling on the Party to “work towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030” and “work towards a path of net zero carbon emissions within keeping of the IPCC advice including to keep global average temperature rises below 1.5C”.

In line with this, Labour tasked a group of independent energy industry experts with identifying the most radical feasible pathway to decarbonise the energy system by 2030.

Electricity and heating across the UK makes up 56% of the UK’s carbon emissions. Their report, 30 by 2030, identifies four goals to transform the UK’s energy supply and use: reducing energy waste in buildings and industry; decarbonising heat; boosting renewable and low carbon electricity generation and balancing the UK’s supply and demand.

Thirty recommendations to meet these goals include upgrading every home in the UK with energy saving measures like insulation and double glazing, focusing first on damp homes and areas with fuel poverty; installing 8 million heat pumps; installing 7,000 off-shore wind turbines, 2,000 more on-shore wind turbines and solar panels covering an area 22,000 football pitches, tripling the UK’s current capacity.

By 2030 the recommended investment in the energy sector would lead to a net benefit of £800 billion to the economy – the equivalent to the whole economy of Holland or Turkey – and create 850,000 new skilled jobs in green industry.

Upgrading housing stock has the potential to end to the fuel poverty currently affecting 2.5 million households. By 2030 these measures could mean 565,000 less cases of asthma due to reduced damp.

Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy could result in 6,200 avoided respiratory related deaths a year by 2030 due to improved air quality. Overall, benefits to public health have the potential to save the NHS £400 million per year.

Commenting on the report, Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business and Energy Secretary, said: 

“This report makes a major contribution to Labour’s plans to kickstart a Green Industrial Revolution.

“The Labour Party has among the most ambitious climate targets in the world and is the only party turning their targets into detailed, credible plans to tackle the climate and environmental crisis.

“Inaction on climate by Conservative and Lib-Dem Coalition Governments has led to a lost decade in the race to cut emissions from our energy system. The recommendations in this report could put the UK on track for a zero-carbon energy system during the 2030’s – but only if rapid progress is made early on. The next five years are therefore crucial.

“We are working with trade unions to ensure that the changes to our energy system will be planned democratically, with the interests of workers and local communities at the heart of the transition.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

  • Full report here: labour.org.uk/30-by-2030
  • Jeremy Corbyn has previously committed that “the next Labour Government will guarantee that all energy workers are offered retraining, a new job on equivalent terms and conditions, covered by collective agreements and fully supported in their housing and income needs through transition.” https://labour.org.uk/press/jeremy-corbyn-speech-alternative-models-ownership-conference/
  • At Labour Party Conference 2019, motions were adopted calling on the Party to:
    • “In collaboration with the trade unions and the scientific community, work towards a path to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, guaranteeing an increase in good unionised jobs in the UK, and the cost of which would be borne by the wealthiest not the majority; and implementing this target into law if it achieves a just-transition for workers.”
    • ‘Have a comprehensive plan that leads the world’ and “work towards a path of net zero carbon emissions within keeping of the IPCC advice including to keep global average temperature rises below 1.5C” and “oversee a just transition, increasing the number of well-paid, unionised green jobs in the UK through public ownership of energy, creating an integrated, democratic system large-scale investment in renewables”.http://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CAC-3-FINAL..pdf
  • Labour has committed to an industrial strategy ensures the UK reduces its emissions in a way that protects and creates quality unionised jobs with good pay and conditions, retrains workers to access new jobs, allows citizens and workers to engage in decision-making processes, and fairly distributes the costs. https://labour.org.uk/green-industrial-revolution-consultation/
  • Inaction on climate by Conservative and Lib-Dem Coalition Governments has led to a lost decade in the race to cut emissions from our energy system.
  • The analysis has relied to the use of a MARCO-UK model to estimate the behaviour of the UK economy from 2020-2030, under the conditions created through the implementation of the thirty recommendations outlined in this report.
  • The main technical project team, provided to the Leeds economics team, the following inputs for the model: the overall investment volume and timing by technology / intervention (summarised in Section 8.4 above; the estimated government capital investment required by technology / intervention – this is taken to be around £150bn of capital investment over the ten years from 2020-2030; energy savings in electricity and gas – as outlined in the technical chapters above.
  • Between 2020 and 2030 the impacts of delivering the recommendations, compared to no such action, are highly positive, and represents a very substantial uplift to the GDP of the UK over that period. This is due to large volumes of capital investment, both government and private, and improved energy efficiency which saves costs to the economy as a whole. Economic growth will be significantly higher as a result, with the annual growth rate being up to 11.4% higher across the decade than the reference case. This will mean the UK economy will perform significantly better, and cumulatively over the period between 2020-2030, create an extra £800 billion. This is around about the annual output of the whole of Turkey or Holland, or nearly 30% of the entire UK economy today.
  • Given government tax across GDP is historically in the UK around 37%, this has been assumed to remain level to 2030, resulting in up to £290bn greater government income cumulatively by 2030. This would mean that for every £1 the UK government spends, up to £2 would be received as a direct result in tax, effectively paying back the government’s investment twice over. This would have a very substantial net positive impact on the UK government balance sheet.
  • A significant increase in both salaries and disposable income would come out of delivering the recommendations. The hourly wages increase vs baseline would reach more than 2% by 2030. The increase in wages is triggered by the enhanced energy efficiency and GDP growth rates, as well as the improvement of labour productivity (GDP/People employed). Labour productivity, in turn, has been encouraged by the demand-side measures and the additional capital investment and government expenditures increased the economy’s capability to hire new workers beyond its initial status. As a consequence of the growth in salaries, disposable income is also expanded. Disposable income would rise by 0.40%-1.35% after the UK Energy Plan is implemented, similarly to hourly wages.
  • 850,000 new skilled jobs in green industry

 

  • 6,200 avoided deaths a year by 2030

It is estimate that local PM2.5 levels are 21% local non-transport (stationary combustion) and 45% regional UK. This implies a 66% of local PM2.5 levels have some dependence on fossil fuel combustion, this has been assumed to be 50%, so 33% over all (https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/reports/cat09/1204301513_AQD2010mapsrep_master_v0.pdf). Then of that 33% impact, a reduction of 78% will be seen due to the recommendations of this report as we move away from fossil fuel based electricity and heat generation.

These assumptions have been applied using a methodology based on work undertaken by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1wSORn0yOYS5kcZXql_nEH98EEvC1OscR/view), to estimate the overall health benefits of delivering the above 30 recommendations.

It is estimated that by 2030 this very significant reduction in fossil fuel use for energy could save 6,200 avoidable deaths per year.

  • 565,000 less cases of asthma by 2030

4% of UK homes have serious damp concerns, and 17.5% of the UK population have been diagnosed with a form of asthma according to the World Health Survey https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353191/table/T1/?report=objectonly. Damp is known to cause asthma, and so improving the quality of all UK homes, with a focus on damp, will result in higher likelihood of asthma. The mould – asthma risk ratio is around 1.4. Using this evidence, and a methodology developed and used by C40 (https://www.c40.org/benefits), estimates can be made of the fewer cases of asthma expected by 2030 by removing the majority of cases of damp (assumed 90% success rate). As such, it is estimated that by 2030 around 560,000 cases of asthma will have been avoided through reducing the amount of damp housing in the UK.

  • 1,500 lives saved per year due to cold.

In the 2017 to 2018 winter period, there were an estimated 50,100 excess winter deaths in England and Wales. The number of excess winter deaths in 2017 to 2018 was the highest recorded since winter 1975 to 1976. This is for a whole range of reasons, but poorly insulated and cold homes is a contributing factor. C40 have developed a methodology for estimating the impact of increasing the average temperature of the coldest homes on cold deaths. This methodology was used to estimate the impact of increasing internal temperatures by an average of 2 degrees centigrade, more than feasible based on a whole home retrofit as proposed in this document. It is estimated that of the roughly 50,000 extra deaths due to cold each year, around 1,500 can be avoided through delivering a UK wide home retrofit program as proposed in this document.