On climate change, the NDP’s Niki Ashton beats Corbyn

While Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party have brought many improvements to party policy, much remains to be done. In particular, Corbyn has been weak on energy and climate policy. Although Labour’s election manifesto was widely interpreted to include energy nationalisation, in fact it promised no such thing. It pledged to bring the electricity grid into public ownership at some ill-defined later date, but that was the only nationalisation proposed. Instead it pledges to create “publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and cooperatives”, which a supplementary industrial strategy paper clarifies to mean energy suppliers (the companies from which we purchase gas and electricity, rather than the companies which produce it). Despite stating “Labour understands that many people don’t have time to shop around”, strangely the party’s solution is to introduce a 7th choice to the market.
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NPF Policy Responses: Environment, Energy and Transport

The National Policy Forum has made the strange decision to group culture with the environment and energy. Meanwhile, transport is placed, not completely without justification, with local government and housing. However, as transport is a major consumer of energy and a transport policy will be essential to fighting climate change, I decided to address it along with energy and the environment, in place of culture.
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What’s in the NPF draft policy statements?

According to the Labour Party Rulebook:

“Party conference shall decide from time to time what specific proposals of legislative, financial or administrative reform shall be included in the Party programme. This shall be based on the rolling programme of work of the National Policy Forum.” (Emphasis added)

The results of that “rolling programme of work” emerge at this time of the year giving members a few weeks to read and discuss them and to get their party branches and CLP to respond. It’s a tight timetable and there is room to doubt the value of the consultation that this purports to be. Continue reading

A 21st Century Energy Policy, Part 3: The Institutions to Make it Happen

PowerGridLinesAs discussed in Part 2, the transition to a low-carbon economy is a massive task requiring extensive government intervention. In the recent leadership campaign, Jeremy Corbyn promised to “promote the growth of over 200 ‘local energy companies’” and to “support the development of 1,000 community energy co-operatives”. Presumably by “local energy companies” he is referring to council-owned gas and electricity distributors such as Nottingham’s Robin Hood Energy. The “community energy co-operatives” would appear to refer the small generators of renewable electricity which can be found across Britain such as the Brighton Energy Co-operative. Continue reading

This Chinese nuclear deal is unsustainable and costly

NuclearHad Labour done it, the Tories would be screaming bloody murder. I am, of course, talking about the deal with the Chinese to build two nuclear power stations. If the Tories really were standing up for Britain, from a national security perspective it beggars belief that key national infrastructure be handed over to a power they would ordinarily be opposed to. But these are not ordinary times, and for Dave and Osborne, they are quite prepared to do anything to be China’s best friend in the West.  Continue reading