LONDON : Britain’s main opposition Labour Party on Monday pledged to turn the country into a clean energy superpower by 2030, saying it would overturn a ban on new onshore wind farms while respecting any oil and gas licences granted before the next election.
Labour, which opinion polls suggest is on course to win a national election expected next year, has tried to position itself as the only party which can spur economic growth by investing heavily in green technologies and jobs with plans to rival similar investments in the United States and the EU.
However, earlier this month it pared back its flagship pledge to spend 28 billion pounds ($36 billion) every year until the end of the decade on building up green industries, blaming high interest rates.
On Monday, Labour leader Keir Starmer set out pledges for 100% clean and affordable power by 2030; to establish a publicly-owned energy company, GB Energy; to create a National Wealth Fund to invest in green technologies; and to upgrade poorly insulated homes.
The party would also overturn the ban on new onshore wind farms which Labour says has added 5.1 billion pounds to energy bills, or 182 pounds per household, because Britain has been forced to turn to more expensive power.
“We can cut bills, create jobs and provide energy security for Britain – that’s what a Labour Government will deliver,” Starmer said in a speech in Edinburgh.
“We’re going to throw everything at this: planning reform, procurement, long-term finance, R&D, a strategic plan for skills and supply chains.”
Starmer reiterated a pledge to stop new oil and gas exploration licences in the North Sea, but said any licenses granted before the next election, such as for Equinor’s proposed Rosebank field, would be respected.
He said that North Sea oil and gas would be part of the energy mix for “decades” but would have a diminishing return, and that Labour had a credible plan to manage the transition.
He said that shift could be made to serve the interests of Scotland as he acknowledged the sensitivities of such a shift in a part of Britain where North Sea oil supports many jobs.
“Deep down, we all know this has to happen eventually, and that the only question is when,” he said.
“The moment for decisive action is now. If we wait until North Sea oil and gas runs out, the opportunities this change can bring for Scotland and your community will pass us by. And that would be a historic mistake.”
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