Welsh Labour manifesto - our response

The Senedd election is on 6 May 2021. We will be publishing blogs commentating on the manifestoes of the Wales Green Party, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Labour, Welsh Conservative and Welsh Liberal Democrats after they have been released, as well as a blog summarising the parties’ commitments once all have been published.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Haf Elgar
Director
Friends of the Earth Cymru

Welsh Labour’s ‘Moving Wales Forward’ is a relatively concise manifesto, with significant focus on their response to the pandemic and of their actions in government over the past 5 years. However two of their six main pledges relate to a greener Wales and creating new green jobs, and there is regular recognition through the document of climate change as a global crisis and a major issues we face. 

In general it’s positive to see the economy being framed in terms of a stronger, greener economy, with commitment to a 10-year infrastructure investment plan for a zero-carbon economy, and emphasis on re-energising local communities and town centres.

It’s also positive to see support for innovation in new renewable technology to make Wales a world centre of emerging tidal technologies, and commitments to new legislation on transport, implementing the new transport strategy with major investment in buses and demand-responsive travel across Wales, making Wales an active travel nation and taking forward the Burns Commission recommendations rather than the scrapped M4 relief road. 

In the section specifically on the environment there is an emphasis on localism and communities, and in creating a fairer as well as greener future, which is essential to achieve climate justice as well as tackling the climate emergency itself.

Among their promises are to abolish more single use plastics and introduce an extended producer responsibility scheme, a National Forest with 30 new woodlands and connected habitat areas, a community food strategy for locally sourced food, upholding their policy of opposing the extraction of fossil fuels, enforcing a moratorium on all large incinerators, and to create accessible green spaces, including pollinator habitat sites, orchards and ‘Tiny Forests’.

It’s also good to see strong wording in favour of a Clean Air Act to set the highest international standards of air quality into law, although there is no mention of the timing of this. 

Elsewhere in the manifesto there is commitment to making our communities cleaner and greener, including ensuring low levels of embodied carbon by using appropriate materials in building and developing a Welsh timber strategy, community and town centre repair and re-use facilities, encouragement of zero wate shopping and more community green space. 

And it’s interesting to see a strong challenge to the clawing back of devolved powers in the UK Internal Market Act, which could limit the Senedd’s ability to make laws for safe food, a clean environment and a progressive response to the climate emergency, as they highlight. 

However there is unfortunately a lack of detail or firm commitments on timings and targets in many areas - no raising of the ambition to cut our emissions, to get to zero waste, or go further than current renewable energy targets.  There is also very little on our global responsibilities and reducing our environmental impact on the rest of the world, or to divest the public sector from fossil fuel investment. 

The lack of detail and further ambition in this manifesto is underwhelming from the party that gave us the ground-breaking Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, took action to stop fossil fuel extraction in Wales and introduced ambitious strategies on the circular economy and transport. While we welcome the promises made as far as they go, and the cross-government nature of action, we would hope for more detail and ambition during the election campaign.

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