Page updated

Major revision September 2014 
Last amendment Spring 2021

1 Introduction, Background & Scope

1.1 Introduction

IN101 Respecting the earth’s ecological limits, sufficient environmental protection, decent working conditions and fair pay can all be afforded today – we don’t have to wait for further economic growth to generate wealth or pay debts before this can be provided. Instead, we must recognise the inherent instability and injustice of our current economic system and the limits to the natural environment on which we depend. Therefore, this policy does not separate short-term and long-term measures.

1.2 Background

IN102 Modern industry is using resources and creating pollution at unsustainable rates. Industry is supplying poor quality products (from new building to throw-away household purchases) which are neither repairable nor reusable, have short lives and are disposable.

IN103 Investment is dominated by the scramble for short-term monetary return. The preoccupation with short-term profits and increasingly reckless banking practices have, over the last 30 years, led to the British economy being increasingly dominated by the finance and service sectors, including speculative property development and industrial R&D focused on securing and exploiting intellectual property.

IN104 The privatisation and/or concentration of ownership and control of many key industrial sectors gives communities little or no say in decisions which affect them. This stems not only from corporate structures, but also from the legal institution of property on which they are based.

IN105 Modern industry is now dominated and shaped by global competition and the development of multinational corporations. This has fuelled a worldwide growth in consumption beyond the limits that our planet can support. Global marketing seeks to manipulate global demand and promotes unsustainable consumer aspirations. Meanwhile, Britain has experienced destruction of many of its traditional industries, which has starved most regions of investment and left many areas dependent on fewer and fewer industrial activities.

IN106 Many markets now are dominated by small numbers of huge firms that exploit producers and manipulate markets to maximise profits and/or to avoid taxation, often causing poverty, environmental degradation and political corruption and oppression. Multinationals heavily influence the policies of all governments and the European Union and are largely unaccountable to them.

1.3 Scope

IN107 This policy concerns industry and jobs. It does not include agriculture (Add Link to Agriculture Policy), nor financial services (Add Link to Economics Policy). It has an international dimension – such as the extent that UK consumption impacts upon the nature and scale of production elsewhere.

2 Executive Summary


2.1 Outcomes Sought

IN201 The assurance of meaningful employment and a life of dignity and modest comfort for all.

IN202 The development of a sustainable zero carbon industrial infrastructure as a basis for a sustainable zero carbon society. This will free the UK economy from a reliance on endless growth in the production of commodities and financial transactions.

IN203 Industrial production will be based on social needs rather than the maximisation of profit and ever increasing consumption. It will aim to maximise quality of life for all within both environmental limits and availability of employment.

2.2 Principles Adopted

IN204 Subsidiarity (Localise and reduce overall scale of production as far as practicable). Industrial production should be at the scale and locations that use energy and physical resources as efficiently as possible, while maximising benefits to local communities and minimising any harmful effects on the environment. This should increase local and sub-regional self-reliance in food and energy production, and incentivise production that is designed to last, uses fewer resources and energy to make, and that is cheaper to repair than throw away. This should drive managed reductions in some areas as well as helpful growth in other areas of production, and include the sustaining of sound public infrastructure as a key enabler of transition to sustainability.

IN205 Democratically accountable industry: to their workforces, to the communities in which they operate and to wider society as a whole. Therefore, markets should have a role as servants to society (but not as owners and masters). Trades Unions, Cooperatives and community ownership all have a role in democratising control over production and socially-aware entrepreneurship can bring about benign change. International exchange of people, goods and services can be benign under appropriate governance.

IN206 Meet needs in an equitable manner. Every individual should have access to food, shelter and resources, so the purpose of industrial production should be to meet the real needs of society in a sustainable manner. This requires benefits to be spread equitably between different communities and between all levels of the workforce. This will include minimising real unemployment and underemployment by creating new socially and environmentally beneficial jobs.

A Zero Carbon, Zero Waste Circular Economy.

IN207 Sustainable industrial activity is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This does not mean increasing consumption, rather, it means making better use of what we have already got (sustainability) instead of just doing more things in ways that lead to sustainable communities but still increase the overall scale of consumption (sustainable development).

IN208 Green industrial solutions are likely to be systemic (rather than systematic) in nature, be valued qualitatively as well as quantitatively, and lead to behaviour and institutional (organisational) change alongside technological solutions. This will minimise embodied carbon and value embodied workmanship.

2.3 Strategic Industrial Approaches

IN209 A Green Industrial Strategy for the UK must recognise that different approaches are needed for different businesses and industrial sectors: those that will need to be reduced in scale and transitioned to become sustainable, and those that need to be rapidly expanded to deliver a sustainable society.

2.3.1 De-industrialisation and Transition.

IN210 The scale of industrial production worldwide must reduce if we are to live in the UK and globally within environmental limits. However, we do not support deindustrialisation as a result of globalisation, which is in effect just offshoring existing industries to lower wage and often lower environmental standards elsewhere.

IN211 Some UK industrial sectors – such as those which are most polluting, resource and energy intensive – must reduce in scale. The practice of ‘picking winners’ based on UK financial comparative advantage or economy of scale has resulted in our economy being concentrated on specific sectors, leaving us gaps in skills and lower resilience. The UK must take responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of what is produced in the UK and also shipped for consumption in the UK. This is likely to mean reducing imports and relocalising production where this will reduce environmental/social impacts. This will reflect targets in the Climate Emergency and Natural Resource Chapters of the PSS (See Links). Some industries are important but must be radically altered, for example, the defence and chemical industries (see PD312-PD313). Other industries can never be sustainable and must be phased out, for example, the nuclear industry (see Energy Policy).

IN212 To close the UK’s blast furnaces with a matter of urgency and replace with electric arc furnaces supplied by better sorted UK scrap steel.

2.3.2 Transition.

IN213 The nature of some industrial sectors must change, such as from resource extraction to the ‘circular economy’. For example, landfill and incineration will shift to reuse, repair and high-value recycling. Similarly, fossil fuel extraction must be replaced (not supplemented by) investment in renewable energy solutions. This will affect the nature of the markets for some products – such as increased leasing and extended product warranties. Unsustainable industries should be discouraged by using green taxes, enhanced regulations and standards and ecolabelling (see below).

IN214 In some cases whole production shall be shifted to more environmentally sustainable and socially useful products, while retaining skills and employment.

2.3.3 New Green Jobs.

IN215 New Industry areas will need to be developed and will create significant new employment, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises. Innovation is needed to deliver sustainability while reducing overall energy production and consumption (positive energy return on energy invested). Government should prioritise investment in sustainable industries to deliver zero waste, zero carbon and localisation of transport sector (see hierarchy in PSS section).

3 Policies

3.1 Fulfilling Work, Appropriate Training, Enriching Lifestyles

IN301 This policy area aims for jobs-rich investment, so the transition to sustainable industry also leads to better and fulfilling employment.

3.1.1 National Employment (for Sustainability) Strategy

IN302 The government should produce and maintain a Green Industrial Strategy that combines a National Jobs Strategy and a National Spatial Strategy. This will coordinate nationally the creation of new sustainable livelihoods with new local developments, in a way that leads to an overall reduction in environmental impact.

IN303 The National Jobs Strategy will ensure that new industries are developed, and existing industries transformed to enable and encourage fulfilling employment while maximising quality of life for all within environmental limits. It will also shift UK manufacturing and retail jobs up the waste hierarchy through reuse, repair and remanufacturing. Government should support companies to choose legal structures that maximise environmental sustainability and employment.

IN304 This will be planned at a bioregional (sub-regional) scale, to support the development of locally and regionally self-reliant and sustainable economies across the UK – through developing the skills, entrepreneurs and incentives for local ‘green jobs’ and ‘climate jobs’ to flourish across the UK.

3.1.2 Training and retraining.

IN305 Training is consistently important in the encouragement of sustainable industry, for example, in helping small business and local government. Yet training levels are far lower in the UK than in other industrialised countries. Therefore, an iron-clad commitment to guaranteed alternative employment and/or training for all workers affected by the transition to sustainability, with no loss of wages, is essential. Such a commitment would have to include guarantees on the provision of satisfactory housing for redeployed workers, should they have to, or choose to, move away from their homes to take up new jobs.

IN306 We propose a National Industrial Training Council to develop and implement a national industrial re-skilling strategy. Such a body would be run jointly by representatives of trade unions, educational institutions and industry, along with public sector coordination.

IN307 Technical education (vocational or industrial training) would be better valued and funded, and the false division between ‘brain work’ and ‘hand work’, and between ‘vocational’ and ‘non vocational‘ education broken down. One contribution to doing that would be to guarantee free access to tertiary level education for all.

IN308 The development of a sustainable industrial base requires the development of a workforce possessing both core skills that are transferable to new situations and the capacity for problem solving and creative thought. Effective training in a green society will therefore be inextricably linked with general education for personal development. Local government, employers, and local Community Colleges share the responsibility for ensuring opportunities for education and training are provided as required throughout an individual’s life. Where appropriate, this will include opportunities for workplace-based training where those experienced in a particular skill have a role in developing the skills of those seeking training (Link to Education Section).

3.1.3 Research, Development and Intellectual Property

IN309 The paucity of properly planned and funded long term R&D in low carbon technology, particularly in the manufacturing and construction sectors, is an ongoing scandal. A new body, a Zero Carbon Sustainability Research Council, needs to be established. This will focus on linking different technologies, behaviour change and our existing built environment. It will support the transition of existing industrial enterprises as well as the establishment of new industrial enterprises. Such a body would be, like the other major Research Councils, funded by central government but independent of it.

IN310 Modern research and development is costly in both funds and resources. Joint R&D activity can be more efficient and less wasteful. Where public funds are involved it is important that the resulting intellectual property rights are publicly owned. Current patenting practices should be revised to increase public access and to enable poorer countries and individuals to retain control over their own resources, ideas and inventions. We support the development of open source technology, and open source solutions, as reflected in our IP Policy (see Intellectual Property policy).

3.1.4 Employment contracting.

IN311 Current trends such as subcontracting are eroding employment rights and adversely affecting the most disadvantaged in society. Short-term contracts shall not be used as a way of avoiding statutory rights (see WR332). Low quality jobs at any cost are not acceptable.
(see also Workers Rights chapter)

3.1.5 Impacts of Citizens’ Income

IN312 Sustainable industrial activity tends to be more labour intensive. For example, if all beer packaging were returnable it would require the employment of a further 4,000 people in the UK (source: FoE). By enabling people to live on a part-time or modest hourly wage, the introduction of Citizens’ Income would facilitate employment in sectors where growth of output per worker is often limited by the nature of the work, such as social care, organic farming, small shops and services provided by the voluntary and non-profit sectors.’ 

3.2 Spatial and Industrial Planning

3.2.1 National Spatial Strategy

IN401 The National Spatial Strategy will ensure individual planning and investment decisions add up to a national plan that is socially and environmentally sustainable.

IN402 The national spatial strategy will replace the current failed market mechanisms with a planning system that it is locally and democratically accountable, not to banks or speculative financial institutions. This will prioritise retention of agriculture, commonly owned land and wildspace in the UK. We support extension of these land designations (rather than reclassification to reduce them, such as being proposed for the Green Belt in many locations) in the UK. This strategy will focus on urban regeneration, reversing the current trend to convert rural sites to industrial and urban areas.

IN403 This will fill the void created by the revocation of the Regional Spatial Strategies, so that the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ principle extends to a national level, ensuring that the overall nature of development is both socially and environmentally sustainable.

IN404 This will include incentives to financially prioritise the refurbishment of existing buildings and suitable brownfield sites, and support the transition of rural communities from commuter towns to sustainable communities. New green jobs will be actively created by prioritising development of sustainable rural livelihoods and locally sustainable enterprises across the UK rather than speculative development focused in existing job-rich areas. This will include incentives to promote clustering of zero carbon, zero waste enterprises in new social enterprise zones – to encourage sustainable enterprises to replicate and co-locate.

3.2.2 Taxation and Incentives for Carbon, Resources and Waste Planning

IN405 The Green Party supports green incentives and taxes which would reduce resource use, limit pollution and discourage wasteful economic growth whilst promoting equality, decentralisation and creative patterns of work (see EC780). These green taxes would allow the full environmental costs to be reflected in the prices of goods. This will include the introduction of carbon border tariffs to set a level playing field with production overseas, to both support the development of UK sustainable industries and avoid the tendency to offshore existing businesses to countries with poorer corporate governance and/or lower social and environment standards.

IN406 New green taxes would be balanced by incentives for zero carbon and zero waste production (see below and EC771).

IN407 Industrial production should minimise embodied carbon, operational carbon (including maintenance) and end-of-life carbon (waste), in part through inspiring new community and user behaviour. Investment to reduce carbon emissions should prioritise demand reduction and energy efficiency improvements over investment in new capacity. This should follow the following hierarchy: demand reduction, energy efficiency, zero carbon (including embodied carbon), low carbon before investment in centralised energy generation such as fossil fuel and nuclear power. Industrial production should follow the waste hierarchy and deliver zero waste without incineration (see Resources): it should focus on waste reduction and reuse, repair and, refurbishment, high-value recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion, before downcycling (material recovery), energy-from-waste (including incineration) or landfill.

3.2.3 Tuning Land Value Tax to influence industries

IN408 Current land rights encourage unsustainable industrial activity (see LD203-6). A Land Value Tax would redress this problem. (see LD400-3 and EC791-3).

3.2.4 National Industrial Priorities

IN409 A Green Industrial Strategy for the UK combines three approaches. This is not just about picking winners but supporting the development of local resilience and new sectors in a systemic way.

Picking green winners, but focused on what is sufficiently environmentally and socially sustainable, to deliver a sustainable economy in the long-term.

Incentives for sustainable production (industries) and consumption (behaviour).

Supporting local communities to choose their own transition path, to become more self-reliant, reflecting local history, ecological profile and needs.

3.2.5 Local and Regional Investment Policy

IN410 It has long been the case that there has been too much economic activity in the south and east of the UK as compared with the north and west. Governments since the 1980s have simply accepted this situation, permitting more development in the South East of England and doing little to promote it elsewhere. Before the 1980s governments had regional policies designed to redress the balance.

IN411 On grounds of social equity, local ecological sustainability and the climate emergency we would seek to reverse the tendency for the population and for industry to become ever more concentrated in London and the South East of England. The pressure on water supplies in particular will become intolerable. We would introduce policies to redress the balance. Such policies could include restrictions on further development in the south east, assistance to industry to locate and re-locate elsewhere, and subsidies for investment in some areas outside the South East. It will increase infrastructure and productive work across the UK, including those regions which have been neglected.

IN412 There are many schemes which would generate useful local employment and improve the self-reliance of regions. These could be targeted to generate major environmental and infrastructure improvements in regions that need them most. High quality environmental and community work training which people opt to join, rather than being coerced by threat of loss of benefits, would achieve this. This would raise the number of people with appropriate skills, at limited financial cost since it would simultaneously reduce the national cost of means-tested benefits / allowances for the unemployed.

IN413 Every region needs to measure how successful it is. Current national indicators measure this solely in terms of profitability. Furthermore the current national GDP measurement methodology is biased against profitability resulting from reductions in resource usage and pollution. National and local sustainability indicators such as pollution minimisation or quality of life give a more realistic picture and should be adopted (see EC311).

IN414 This will be closely tied with the National Spatial strategy to work to actively regenerate our declining rural communities, and reduce the economic reliance upon (and commuting to) London and the South East. This will aim to reduce the inter-regional inequality across the UK.

3.2.6 Community Investment Policy

IN415 Small businesses in the UK find it difficult to get timely access to external funds and affordable interest rates. Community Banks are needed which have funds available for local activities. (see EC512)

IN416 Community Banks would give local firms and co-operatives access to funds managed locally and supplied at preferential rates. This would favour activities identified by the Local Government Local Development Plan. The allocation of funds would make use of environmental impact analysis but be simple enough to be understandable.

IN417 Community scale investment could also be supported through the creation of community currencies which could be supported by local councils. In addition monetary reforms by the national government (see EC664) could localise the benefits from creating new money.

IN418 The sum of these locally sustainable economies will be a national economy which contributes to and draws from the international ‘globalised’ economy in different ways.

3.3 National Industry Targets and Investment

3.3.1 Infrastructure Investment to support a Green Industrial Strategy

IN501 A massive infrastructural investment and retrofit programme will require us to prioritise the rapid development of three key sectors:

renewable energy generation and transmission (electricity, heat and transport fuels);

rethinking/localisation of transportation; and

transformation/retrofit of our existing built environment and construction approaches.

IN502 First, because electricity generation and transmission, transport and the heating and cooling of buildings between them account for the majority of greenhouse gasses (CO2e) emitted in Britain annually. If we are to reduce emissions as rapidly and drastically as we need to then these sectors are clearly of the highest priority.

IN503 Second, because these three sectors provide the fundamental underpinnings of all other productive sectors and the essential foundations for the overall infrastructural and social renewal that is vital to our society.

IN504 Third, because a planned major programme of public investment and employment in these sectors will also, if properly planned, lead to rapid growth in R&D in sustainable and socially useful technology and stimulate the demand for new skills and/or training elsewhere.

3.4 Democratic Business Governance

IN601 The UK currently seeks to support businesses with low tax. We propose an alternative focused on investment in infrastructure and a skilled workforce. This is also reflected in how businesses should be governed.

IN602 Businesses should be run in the interests of society, not vice versa. Corporate governance structures should reflect the interests of the different stakeholders who contribute to the success of businesses and who are affected by their actions. This includes employees, customers, suppliers and wider society, not just the tiny constituencies of wealthy executives and cosseted fund management institutions – acting on behalf of shareholders – who currently exert a disproportionate and often pernicious influence over major UK corporations.

3.4.1 Corporate Legal Structures

IN603 Sustainable industries are most likely to be small businesses, not-for-profit enterprises, charity or community-based organisations, publically owned or mutuals. Scaling up might be through social franchises, with local ownership and control.

IN604 Some industries provide for basic human needs and are so crucial to the well-being of society that the community must hold a stake in them. Industries which must be returned to public ownership include the NHS, the water industry (see NR428), the railways (see TR230), and the electricity and gas transmission and distribution industries.

IN605 To adapt to deliver sustainable products, existing and new industrial enterprises must have strategies that are responsive to community and societal needs, and reflect environmental protection and limits. This means that the way an enterprise is governed, and for whose benefit, is of prime importance. Corporate (Social and Environmental) Responsibility must trump financial objectives in decision making.

3.4.2 Company Standards and Regulation

IN606 Company law should encourage greater accountability to the community. The annual accounts of companies with financial turnovers above an annually-revised limit should include an approved system of environmental audit. This would include a separate ecological balance sheet
showing costs over the complete industrial cycle. It would include all externals such as the emission of pollutants. (see EC513)

IN607 Market forces do not ensure that the health and safety of people inside and outside of places of work, or the environment outside, are sufficiently protected. Well planned regulations and standards which create high environmental standards can stimulate investment in green technologies and services at the same time as generating cost savings.

IN608 Tighter regulation is needed to ensure that the UK prioritises the waste hierarchy (which is a legal requirement) and carbon hierarchy (i.e. carbon reduction and energy efficiency before zero and low carbon technologies in the UK) set out in IN407 above.

IN609 Regulation should be precautionary. Standards should be kept up to date to ensure that best available techniques are adopted. Government, in partnership with industry, should fund research into sustainable industrial activity – such as product reuse.

IN610 Pollution licences should be time limited and the size of penalties should reflect environmental costs. Fines for persistent offenders should be in excess of the cost of cleaning up. (See PL420-432)

IN611 Ecolabelling for all products would provide a mechanism for indicating the quality of a product and enforcing minimum quality standards. Progressive national tax and financial systems will only be effective if environmental criteria can be applied easily. Ecolabelling would also encourage companies to provide real product information rather than generating artificial demand for unnecessary products.

IN612 Product quotas should be used to deter poor quality imports. In extreme cases products should be completely banned. This would apply where resources are near exhaustion, where environmental damage is unsustainable, or where countries persistently abuse human rights.

IN613 Environmental dumping should be discouraged by allowing legal action in any country against activities carried out elsewhere. The governing law in the country where the action is brought would apply.

3.4.3 European Policy and Transnational Corporations (TNCs)

IN614 Both the free market and central planning have a bad track record. The EU has combined many of the worst features of these outdated forms of economic regulation. The EU should become a Confederation of Regions (see EU302) providing a framework for local and regional sustainable economic activity.

IN615 Numerous treaties designed for eco-crisis management have failed to bring far reaching improvements. The problem is not one of understanding but of enforcement. This role needs to be carried out at the national level (see PL410) and aided by a new European Environmental Agency (EEA). As well as enforcement, the EEA should aim to provide well researched information and to establish standards. It must be well resourced to ensure that standards can be enforced. Funds should be diverted from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
(TNCs – see also IP400 to IP431)

IN616 The UN Commission on Trans-National Corporations published a voluntary Code of Conduct as long ago as 1977. This dealt with important issues such as disclosure of information; protecting the credit policies of countries; tax payments including transfer prices; autonomy for different corporate areas; consumer and environmental protection; and employment rights.

IN617 Where public funds are supplied there must be strict compliance with the UN Code. Full environmental impact audits must be carried out. Governments must not allow arbitrary relocation threats to induce tax concessions. Environmental standards of all subsidiaries must be the same as those of the registered head office.

IN618 Worker Participation laws in the UK and EU must be respected. These must also be observed in all subsidiaries. Social funds aimed at supporting this should be set up and funded in partnership with government.

IN619 The lack of openness of TNC policies, structure and ownership must be addressed. Public access to shareholding details is required regardless of the number of shares held. The identity of the board members should be public knowledge. Stock Exchange prospectus requirements should be extended to provide more key information. TNC policies adopted at the EU or national level should be extended to global institutions.

IN620 The annual reporting practices of the private sector should be further extended for TNCs and be carried out by an independent body. Reserve stock levels should be detailed in order to reduce transfer pricing. Annual reports should be subdivided by subsidiaries and affiliates. Social policies should be made public by including the differentials in income, qualifications, training, working hours and conditions. All banking transactions (including foreign exchange) should be separated from production activities by the setting up of organisationally separate financial institutions which have to be accountable to the public.

IN621 The EU needs a strong Monopoly Commission which can control large scale mergers within the EU. It must have clear rights to corporate information. The tendency to grant exceptions to anti- trust legislation for banks and export cartels must stop. It is important that mergers in the EU do not allow any country to degenerate into a satellite economy. Consideration should therefore be given to setting quotas for national shares in markets.

IN622 These policies place new restrictions on TNCs. If they wish to make profits in the EU then TNCs need to invest those profits in the EU. In particular, TNCs must site here to sell here.

3.4.4 Democratic Worker participation

IN623 All employees of limited liability companies should have the right to ballot on whether they wish the company to be mutualised (transformed into a co-operative). To ensure as smooth a transition as possible this hand-over would be phased in. The costs of such a mutualisation could be met by funding from a National Pension and Investment Fund, which would hold some of the equity of the new co-operative in the form of a ‘golden share’ to reflect and protect the community interest. The Fund could also give loans to workers to assist them purchasing a controlling stake.

IN624 An independent Equality Audit Service which could be called in by any group of employees in any workplace, and whose assessments were legally binding, would protect the rights of women, disabled people and any other group facing disadvantage in the workplace.

3.4.5 Corporate Governance

IN625 We support mandatory representation on company boards for elected members of the company workforce.

IN626 The concept of stakeholder value should be embedded into UK Corporate Governance Legislation. The legal responsibilities of Company Directors should be amended to require them to sustain the conditions that enable the company to flourish over time, in the interest of all stakeholders including employees, customers and wider society, rather than in the sole interest of shareholders as is currently the case. A parallel ‘fiduciary duty’ should be imposed on all investors requiring them to have regard for the social and environmental consequences of their investments.

IN627 We support mandatory ‘triple bottom line’ reporting, requiring companies to quantify their net contribution in social and environmental terms as well as their financial accounts. Government procurement contracts should be measured against triple bottom line reporting to ensure that the companies that deliver the most for society are fairly rewarded.

IN628 We would require 40% of the board at all companies to be women.

IN629 Companies would also be compelled to detail in their annual report how they have sought to incorporate perspectives from outside a traditional business background onto the board. A small levy paid by company board members could fund the maintenance of a training institute designed to provide new board members with the necessary knowledge to provide stewardship of a key institution.


Changes to this chapter


Spring 2018: change to IN604 as part of energy chapter revision

Spring 2017; change to IN312

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