Group dubs scrapping £28bn-a-year pledge “a massive missed opportunity to show true climate leadership”

Keir Starmer portrait

Roll-back: Keir Starmer

The Labour Party’s decision to ditch its pledge to spend £28bn a year on green investment if it wins the upcoming general election has been attacked by a group formed by some of the UK’s biggest architecture practices.

Architects Declare, which launched in 2019 with the backing of 17 winners of the Stirling Prize, said scrapping the pledge was “a massive missed opportunity to show true climate leadership at a time in history where it matters most”.

A statement from the organisation’s steering group, which currently includes architects from AHMM, Maccreanor Lavington, Allies & Morrison, DSDHA and Marks Barfield co-founder Julia Barfield, said members were “deeply disappointed” by Labour leader Keir Starmer’s roll-back.

“The tragedy is that there are a plethora of solutions that could solve our planetary emergency, whilst also bringing about greater social justice,” yesterday’s statement said.

“The Climate Change Committee have estimated that up to 725,000 jobs could be created in the low-carbon sector, proving that greater investment makes both scientific and economic sense for the long-term.

Julia Barfield helps ACAN (Architects' Climate Action Network) deliver a letter to the Arb

Source: Keith van Loen

Architects Declare steering group member Julia Barfield

“We are hopeful that there are still some courageous voices within parliament, and we encourage them to speak out against the short-sighted mindset that is driving the destruction of the living world. As UK Architects Declare we remain committed to shaping a positive future.”

Justifying the decision to scrap the £28bn pledge, which was first announced in 2021, Starmer last week said the figure was no-longer affordable. He insisted Labour was still committed to delivering “clean power by 2030” and that specific green plans announced by the party would go ahead.

Last year shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves effectively chipped away at the plans by announcing that the £28bn-a-year funding pledge would only be available from 2027, rather than from the first year of a future Labour government.

The scaled-back version of Labour’s green-industries spending will see around £5bn a year spent. Grants and loans for energy-efficiency upgrades to private homes are among the main areas where funding will be cut.

Muyiwa Oki cropped

Muyiwa Oki

RIBA president Muyiwa Oki said future generations would “pay the price” if the next government failed to put the right measures in place to react to climate change.

“With the climate emergency intensifying, 19m UK homes are still in dire need of upgrading. Ambitious and sustained investment from whomever forms the next government, and the private sector, will be critical to address the scale of this challenge,” he said.

“We must futureproof homes with a well-funded national retrofit strategy – a long-term plan that will also create jobs, boost green skills and level up the country.”

Oki said architects “stand ready” to contribute to creating a more sustainable and resilient built environment and “making the future a better place”.

Architects Declare is due to launch a policy manifesto at parliament’s Portcullis House on 12 March.