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Jeremy Corbyn has today unveiled his vision for the future environmental direction of the Labour Party. Setting out his vision for a future Labour government Corbyn said that:
“Today I am announcing a bold new set of policies which will pioneer a democratic, community-led system of energy supply. Over the course of the next parliament, we will use public investment and legislation to promote the creation of over 200 local energy companies, giving towns, cities and localities the powers they need to drive a clean, locally accountable energy system with public, not-for-profit companies. At the heart of this policy will be a new generation of community energy co-operatives. We will create 1,000 of these co-operatives with the support of a network of regional development banks, and legislate to give them the right to sell energy directly to the communities they serve.”
The key aspects of his policy are a pledge to develop an energy policy that will serve the “60 million, not the big six” – that will include the creation of 300,000 new jobs in the renewable energy sector, and a target of generating 65% of electricity originating from renewables, by 2030.
Corbyn has said that a Labour government under his leadership would reinstate the Department for Energy and Climate Change that has been ditched by Theresa. It is this department that would drive forward his ambitious plans.
The Labour leader has also vowed to ban fracking as it is not compatible with Britain’s future climate commitments. His plans to outlaw fracking have proved predictably controversial with his detractors. The GMB union, who by pure serendipity just happen to be backing Owen Smith for the Labour leadership, have accused Corbyn of concocting an energy policy that – “will not keep the lights on.” They claim that Corbyn’s aim of 65% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 was just wishful thinking. The National Secretary, Justin Bowden – despite admitting he hasn’t read the details of the policy – has claimed that Corbyn is – “Naive and short-sighted” in his desire to ban the practice of ‘Fracking, adding that :
“Everyone gets how – over time – renewable energy sources have an important role to play in a sensibly conceived mixed energy policy. However, wishful thinking doesn’t generate the power we need to heat homes, keep the lights on and the economy functioning; this means that until there are technological breakthroughs in carbon capture or solar storage then gas and nuclear power are the only reliable, low-carbon shows in town for all those days when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.”
While it is understandable that the GMB are concerned about a loss of jobs within the fracking industry, it is perplexing why they would not welcome the creation of 300,000 new jobs that comfortably dwarf the number of jobs that are dependent on fracking.
Corbyn’s opponent in the upcoming Labour leadership election, Owen Smith, wasted little time in attacking Corbyn’s proposals. Smith – in the type of vacuous snipe that has become his stock-in-trade, claimed that:
Its impossible for Jeremy Corbyn to speak with credibility on environmental policy. By failing to campaign effectively for Britain to remain in the EU, and by calling for article 50 to be invoked immediately, he has put vital environmental protections at further risk.