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Next Labour government will restrict ‘planet-killing’ financial investments, McDonnell says

JOHN McDONNELL flagged the tackling of climate change and the restriction of investment in “planet-killing” projects as an “absolute priority” for the next Labour government today.

The shadow chancellor is leading a new review group to pinpoint how the financial sector could be exacerbating climate change, with a report expected to be published in October.

The first role of a Labour government would be to “deliver a green industrial revolution through a national transformation fund,” he said in a speech in central London.

Under a Labour government, the Bank of England would have to “do its bit to stop money flowing to projects that will kill the planet or destabilise our economy” — Mr McDonnell added.

The Treasury under Labour would have more power to “fund and drive the climate change emergency programme,” he also said.

The sustainable investment board would have the responsibility for delivering investment to meet climate targets.

“Leaving it to the market just won’t succeed,” he told attendees.

An additional £250 billion will be spent on this project over a decade, which will be funded by government bonds through the national investment bank over the first two terms of a Labour government, he added.

He insisted such a scheme would rebalance the economy and tackle sluggish productivity, as well as save the planet, as it would include the creation of around 400,000 “well-paid” jobs across Britain. 

Labour’s plans also include large-scale development of alternative energy sources such as wind and marine power, a carbon-neutral transport system and converting industry to low-carbon production.

There would also be a “radical reform” of agriculture and land use, and helping conserve energy — such as through the installation of solar power — in homes and businesses, Mr McDonnell said.

One of the targets of the party’s “climate change emergency programme” is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by at least 2050.

Mr McDonnell, whose constituency is home to Heathrow airport, described the direct action of Extinction Rebellion and school pupil strikes as “definitely worth it” for causing “relatively minor disturbance to everyday life” in protesting against climate change.

His speech comes ahead of a rally in Westminster tomorrow with more than 15,000 environmental protesters expected. 

“I have invited representatives from Extinction Rebellion to brief my ministerial team on their assessment of the climate change crisis and their ideas on how to address it,” he added.

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