Labour’s plan to renationalise energy networks would slow progress on cutting carbon emissions, economists have claimed. Consultants at Frontier Economics also warn that Labour’s aim of creating regional power operators would drive up energy bills. Labour’s approach to cutting carbon emissions is expected to be a hot topic at this week’s party conference in Brighton. It wants to create a National Energy Agency, which would own power infrastructure.
Times 22nd Sept 2019 read more »
The problem with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell is that they are just not radical enough. That is the view of thousands of Labour members at this week’s party conference in Brighton. Their mission is to railroad the opposition’s leadership into going much further and faster on combating climate change. Operating under the banner Labour for a Green New Deal (LabGND), these campaigners want the party to commit the UK to a target of net zero-carbon emissions by 2030 – 20 years ahead of the current plan. They have bold ideas about how to get there, talking freely about decommissioning oilfields in the North Sea and erecting an entirely new green power grid that would be free for all to use. It would be called the National Energy Agency (NEA). What might at first sound like a tiff within the Labour family does in fact symbolise the collision between escalating public concern about climate change and politicians and business leaders who will have to address those fears – and find ways to foot the bill. This clash of ideas could have enormous ramifications for Britain’s businesses and political parties of all stripes. In the run-up to the conference, nearly 130 of the CLPs proposed LabGND’s motion on zero-carbon emissions by 2030 – far more than any other motion and double the 61 local parties that signed up to an anti-Brexit motion. “We launched Labour for a Green New Deal because we were not satisfied with our party’s response to the climate emergency,” said Chris Saltmarsh, a founder and director of the group. “We already have 20 LabGND groups around the country and 20 more on the way.” Saltmarsh argues for a national state-funded programme to retrofit all homes with energy-efficient insulation, boilers and other eco-friendly features. However, he is not convinced that nationalisation of the big six energy companies or a state takeover of the National Grid is sensible either. Britain’s energy companies were already struggling to digest Labour’s current plan for their industry – let alone the radical agenda that is now being raised in Brighton. Launched in May by Corbyn and his shadow BEIS secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, under the banner Bringing Energy Home, Labour’s plan envisages taking National Grid and a string of distribution networks into public ownership, replacing them with “existing private monopolies with publicly owned and locally run institutions”. Crucially, Labour plans to renationalise power networks and water companies by paying less than their market value – creating the threat of a wave of lawsuits in retaliation. A weighty report by Frontier Economics commissioned by the Energy Networks Association (ENA), out this weekend, warns that taking swathes of the energy industry into public ownership would jeopardise – not hasten – carbon-reduction targets. It is also difficult to envisage whether the publicly funded retro-fitting of 30m UK homes with insulation and other energy efficient features would succeed – especially when simply installing smart meters has proved so problematic. Back in Brighton, Labour’s leaders hope to secure some sort of compromise. A source close to Corbyn suggested that one possible alternative might be to commit to a 2040 target for zero carbon emissions instead. “It’s too close to call,” said one Labour figure on the right of the party when asked if the 2030 zero-carbon motion would pass this week. “Greening the economy must be done in an orderly way and we need the business community working with us to do that. Too much nationalisation, disruption and huge spending commitments and we’ll never get there.”
Times 22nd Sept 2019 read more »
Plans for the NHS to slash its emissions to net zero will be unveiled today at Labour’s annual party conference in Brighton. Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP is set to announce plans for the NHS sustainability and clean air programme, which will see the installation of more than 150,000 solar panels, the procurement of low emission vehicles, and investment in energy efficiency systems in NHS buildings designed to save 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Some hospitals have already saved significant amounts of money through renewable energy initiatives, the party noted. University Hospitals of North Midlands has installed more than 1,000 solar photovoltaic panels, which are expected to save the hospital over £600,000 over their 20-year lifetime, while Oxford University Hospitals replaced old boilers with a combined heat and power (CHP) systems and new combi boilers saving the trust £460,000a year. Labour argued that the wider use of CHP systems could save the NHS £77m and 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
Business Green 22nd Sept 2019 read more »
On Monday this week, inexperienced new energy minister Nadhim Zahawi made a speech on behalf of the UK to the annual General meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. His expertise on energy has been less than two months. So perhaps he can be excused for not being very conversant with details of nuclear, or wider energy policy. But his BEIS departmental speech writers have no such excuse. Why, then, have they chosen to put significant disingenuous words into the new energy minister’s mouth? For example, Zadawi told the IAEA General Assembly: “The UK Government is committed to tackling the global challenge of climate change. We recently became the first major economy to set a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We believe nuclear energy will play a key role in achieving this..” This assertion misrepresents nuclear’s relationship to carbon emissions: it represents a significant error of omission:
David Lowry’s Blog 19th Sept 2019 read more »