Fighting Climate Change

The climate emergency is intensifying. From coastal erosion, wildfires, floods and heatwaves … we can feel it happening here in Britain: but in parts of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa the effects are already devastating for millions of people.

Yet it’s not too late to act.

Labour has pledged take the carbon out of our electricity system by 2030, with a massive programme of public investment that aims to leverage in billions of pounds from the private sector.

The aim is to use £24bn of public spending – financed by borrowing and a windfall tax – alongside a radical change to planning and pension fund rules, to give investors in wind, solar, nuclear and our energy infrastructure long term certainty.

Done right, that could trigger the smart, green reindustrialisation of Britain, providing tens of thousands of decent jobs and cheap electricity.

But in the journey to zero net carbon, we have to take all communities with us. The “just transition” can’t be merely a phrase.

That’s why I’ve become a UK champion for the Fossil-fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty: so that we commit all countries to ending investment in new fossil fuel extraction at the same time – so that UK oil and gas communities, and the poorest consumers of energy, do not lose out to unfair competition.

To reduce household bills I want Labour to nationalise the energy retailers as proposed by the TUC. I support Labour’s call for a bigger windfall tax on the oil and gas giants.

To achieve a carbon-free electricity system we need to take the National Grid into public ownership, or at the very least take a controlling public stake, and reconfigure it as a network that takes renewable-generated electricity from homes, small solar sites, nuclear – at small scale and large – and a renewed onshore wind sector. We also need to build zero net carbon priorities into the energy planning system.

At the same time we’ll need more investment locally in flood defences, water conservation, coastal adaptation and more fire and rescue services to cope with the extreme weather events associated with climate change. That, in turn, means we need better funding for local government.

The key to making it happen is money. If we borrow to invest now, the government’s own figures show that will be cheaper than doing it later. Greening our energy system has to be a long-term public private partnership, and that means government creating long-term certainty and stability. Let’s make it happen.

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