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 2: The Technology of the Future

NS_Savanah_NuclearPoweredShipIf humanity is to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change, developed countries must take aggressive steps to decarbonise as quickly as possible. This will mean not only replacing existing fossil-fuel power plants, but greatly expanding electricity production to replace gas and petrol. Such a task demands not just an energy policy, but a comprehensive economic plan.

For reasons discussed in Part 1, decarbonisation is not achievable in Britain using only renewable sources. Investments should certainly be made in wind, and (where feasible) hydroelectric, tidal, and geothermal power, but even combined these are unlikely to provide more than half of the current supply. The remainder must be made up by nuclear power. This is broadly in line with what energy analyst David MacKay proposed as “Plan E” in his book Sustainable Energy—Without the Hot Air. This was the plan which he deemed to be the most economical of those he proposed.
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Energy for the 21st century, part I: fossil-fuels, renewables and nuclear

ScrobySandsWindFarmWith the exception of Arthur Scargill, most on the Left agree that the days of fossil fuels must soon come to an end. We all know that it would be environmental catastrophe to revive the coal industry. We have to wean ourselves off coal and other fossil fuels but what will take their place?

The dream answer is renewable energy, but, as I will argue, this is no more than a dream. Jeremy Corbyn has promised 65% of electricity from renewables by 2030, rising thereafter to 85%. It is said that this will create 300,000 jobs in the renewable energy supply chain. This chimes well with the Green New Deal advocated by progressives since the financial crisis of 2008. Continue reading