A new windfall £11bn tax on oil companies will be at the heart of a Labour government’s plan to tackle climate change and transform Britain, Jeremy Corbyn confirmed on Thursday.
The one-off levy will be aimed at turning the UK into a low carbon, green economy, with a view to getting to getting the country on a path to zero emissions by 2030.
In another radical move, companies that “fail to contribute to tacking the climate and environmental emergency” will be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange.
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The manifesto says that just 100 multinational firms globally are “responsible for the majority of carbon emissions” and “we won’t be afraid to tackle this wanton corporate destruction”.
The fossil fuel firm crackdown, along with a massive increase in council house building, was the centrepiece of Labour’s 2019 election manifesto launched in Birmingham.
Fresh policies to boost public transport, with axed bus routes restored and entitlement to free travel greatly expanded, were among measures aimed at cutting Britain’s carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.
A £250bn Green Transformation Fund will also fund 300,000 new “green apprenticeships” and loans for people to buy electric cars.
Corbyn said that the programme for government was fully costed and would be paid for with extra tax on the highest earners and billions of pounds of borrowing.
Some trade unions had feared that a windfall tax could hit their members working in the North Sea oil industry, but the party decided a radical levy would raise much-needed cash and send a strong signal of the low carbon direction of a Corbyn administration.
The manifesto states that oil firms “that knowingly damaged our climate will help cover the costs” of decarbonising the UK economy.
Aides said later that they estimated the cost of the windfall tax at “around £11bn”, based on “transition schemes” in Germany and Spain and on academic work on fossil fuel workers in the USA.
The money from the tax will cover training, new qualifications and relocation grants for the 36,800 workers employed directly in the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector. It will also fund community-level investments to support regions indirectly reliant on offshore fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, a party conference motion committing Labour to a firm 2030 net zero target has been watered down.
Instead, the manifesto said it would “put the UK on track for a net-zero-carbon energy system within the 2030s – and go faster if credible pathways can be found”.
Among the other key pledges in the manifesto were:
- a £155bn NHS ‘rescue plan’.
- 100,000 new council houses a year by 2024.
- free broadband for all delivered by part-nationalising BT.
- a “real living wage” of at least £10 an hour, including for younger workers.
- creation of one million “green jobs” to tackle climate change.
- bringing rail, mail, water and energy into public ownership
- keeping the state pension age at 66
- an immediate 5% pay rise for public sector workers
Speaking to supporters, Corbyn said that his blueprint for government was a radical plan to tear up the ‘rigged’ system that currently benefits the wealthy.
“Over the next three weeks, the most powerful people in Britain and their supporters are going to tell you that everything in this manifesto is impossible,” he said.
“That it’s too much for you. Because they don’t want real change. Why would they? The system is working just fine for them. It’s rigged in their favour.”
The Labour leader said he welcomed the “hatred” of those opposed to his policies including the “opposition of the billionaires”.
“When you’re serious about real change, those who profit from a rigged system, who squirrel away the wealth created by millions of people, won’t give up without a fight,” he said.
Corbyn said the “hostility of the rich and powerful” was “inevitable” given he had pledged to take on “bad bosses”, “dodgy landlords”, and “big polluters”.
As part of its housing plans, Labour would seek to buy back upto 5,000 council homes a year, by paying individuals the market rate for their property.
The move would be a way to get new affordable homes available until the government builds capacity for its housebuilding plans for 100,000 new council homes a year in the fifth year of a Corbyn administration.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.