Labour has announced plan to plant 2bn trees over the next 20 years and create 10 new national parks, as part of a rewilding policy intended to tackle the climate emergency and help natural habitats.
The proposals also include an investment of £1.2bn to restore habitats such as woodlands and peat bogs in England, and extra funding for national park authorities.
An extra £2.5bn would be used for a tree-planting programme covering national parks, other publicly owned land, farmland and “natural corridors” along parks, cycle routes and canals.
Labour said it would increase funding for national parks by 50%. None of the 10 proposed new national parks have been decided on, but ideas suggested by Labour include the Malverns, Chilterns, Lincolnshire Wolds and north Pennines.
Part of the decision would rest on the state of environmental degradation in the areas being considered as well as the potential for capturing carbon emissions and improving biodiversity.
The entire programme, once completed, could store up to 47m tonnes of carbon emissions each year by 2050, Labour said, while new wild habitats would benefit endangered birds, animals and insects.
The party said an estimated 20,000 jobs would be created in areas such as forestry management, and a total of 1m jobs under a wider plan to reshape the economy on a sustainable basis.
On Wednesday night, Jeremy Corbyn told supporters in Falmouth at a rally to promote the party’s “green industrial revolution”, that the 2016 Paris climate agreement did not go far enough. He said: “I want to lead a Labour government that next year will host the next climate change conference, and which will be much stronger than Paris.
“Our government will be one that will be very environmentally conscious, it will bring about a net zero emissions. Our government will work on the world stage to achieve that as well.”
Part of Labour’s 1m green jobs plan will also include nationwide home refurbishments,creating jobs through insulation upgrades, as well as in offshore wind and carbon capture. The jobs will also come from hydrogen and tidal energy expansion, port infrastructure, flood defences and plastics recycling.
With just two weeks until the election, Corbyn warned supporters: “Everything is going to be thrown at us in the next two weeks. Every bit of abuse that the right wing press can find. Every bit of abuse that the wealthiest in our society can throw at people that want to bring about real change.”
Friend of the Earth welcomed the plan but said parties should remember that “trees will only help fix the climate crisis if emissions cuts happen at the same time”.
Guy Shrubsole from the environmental group, said: “This is by far the most ambitious tree-planting pledge we’ve seen from a political party. Tree cover in the UK needs to double as part of the fight against climate breakdown and this means adding 3bn new trees, and fast. If sustained, Labour’s promised tree-planting rates would achieve this by 2050.”