‘Stability and ambition’: Green experts react to Labour’s landslide victory

Labour has been urged to speed up the transition to net zero by putting its green policies into action and tackle the plastic crisis “head on”, as experts react to its landslide general eletion victory.

The new prime minister Keir Starmer has promised to double onshore wind, treble solar and quadruple offshore wind by 2030.

But while Starmer has promised to end new licences for North Sea exploration, the stance on existing production licences remains ambiguous. Labour has also pledged to create GB Energy and a commitment to decarbonise the UK’s power grid by 2030.

Ed Miliband, as shadow energy secretary, promised that GB Energy would reduce high-cost bills for citizens and cut the UK’s dependence on Russian oil.

Following Labour’s landslide general election victory, Christophe Williams, CEO of Naked Energy, has called for further action against fossil fuels.

Futher action against fossil fuels

He said: “Now Labour is in power, they must end the subsidies on fossil fuels. We’re being led to believe by some that we must choose between renewable energy and domestic security – that’s it’s impossible to have both.

“This is not true. Security of supply for the UK can be secured by ending our dependence on natural gas. Gas prices have risen by 24% over the last three months, and as temperatures get colder in the winter we can expect this to rise further.

“At the moment we’re importing liquefied natural gas from the US. This should only be a backup – it’s far too expensive to be the solution.

“All this makes it misleading to suggest that subsidising fossil fuels will shore up our domestic energy security and keep prices down.

“We have an opportunity to become world leaders in renewable energy, and it won’t require historical levels of funding. All we need is the Government to provide the support and clarity that will nudge us in the right direction. We have the innovation and the resources to take care of the rest.”

Thomas Farquhar, co-founder and chief operating officer, Heatio, said the country had been “dangerously reliant” on fossil fuels.

UK dangerously reliant on fossil fuels

He said: “High energy prices – a key driver of inflation – hurt the consumer most while strangling the economy.

“Yet, we have been dangerously reliant on fossil fuels, leaving us vulnerable to the whims of other countries ethically, ecologically, and economically.

“European countries which have decoupled away from fossil fuels scratch their heads as increasing numbers of UK residents fall into fuel poverty each winter.

“Low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps which are installed in millions of homes already across Europe, are the future, but people need social proof.

“The Labour manifesto promised to lower the cost of energy through renewables, accelerating to net zero by making Britain a clean energy superpower. Labour recognises how critical it is to upgrade our creaking National Grid as more people buy electric cars and turn to renewables for home energy.

“After years of climate change and energy security being used as a political football, we now need the new government to take immediate action.

“More support is needed for people to adopt clean technology around the home. With winter just around the corner, now is the time for the new government to show strong leadership both immediately and in the long-term, and show the rest of the world that the UK won’t be left behind.”

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Can’t take “risks with the climate”

LCP Delta said it welcomed the scale of ambition of the new government’s commitment to double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind.

Sam Hollister, head of market insight, LCP, commented: “A new government brings the benefit of providing political stability for the next few years.

“The scale of ambition we are seeing from Labour when it comes to the energy transition is necessary – we can’t take risks with the climate.

“While Labour’s accelerated targets will be a challenge, GB Energy, in particular, is an interesting proposal that can support delivery by co-investing and crowding in private sector funding.

“We need to invest £430bn in decarbonising the power sector by 2050, and the State is not going to provide that level of funding, so the £8.3bn allocated to GB Energy needs the opportunity to play a pivotal role in bringing forward private investment.

“This is not all about investment; even the additional funding and new schemes outlined in Labour’s manifesto would not be enough to reach the ambitious targets if operated in isolation.

“All new schemes must be carefully coordinated to maximise synergies, and additional enabling steps must be taken. Planning consent and connection agreement processes are currently hindering the delivery of renewable projects.

“Setting out new national policy statements will therefore be crucial in speeding up the pipeline.”

Must tackle plastic crisis

Sian Sutherland, co-founder, A Plastic Planet & Plastic Health Council, said: “Having secured a historic majority, Prime Minister Starmer and his government now has no excuse to not implement lasting policies that tackle the plastic crisis head on.

“Piecemeal bans and tired models of recycling won’t cut it.

“Clear and comprehensive policy that takes a long-term vision over short-term tokenism is the only vehicle to fight the impact of plastic on our bodies and planet.

“Science must inform legislation that provides certainty to business and signals that single-use plastic will no longer be the norm; crucially putting in place a level of accountability for the biggest polluters intent on disrupting change. Investment in innovative British solutions, another element desperately needed and has been neglected.”

Government must provide “continuity” and “certainty”

Asif Ghafoor, CEO of national EV charging network Be.EV, said the country needed “continuity” and “certainty” on its switch to electric vehicles.

He said: “Labour should introduce a simple mandate that compels every local authority to open up 50% of their land for private companies to install EV chargers. They don’t have the capital or expertise to do it themselves.

“We don’t want any more rules or changes – that’s a headache for everyone. What we really need is continuity and certainty. This will really help charging networks to expand.

“There needs to be some encouragement to drivers, and we have a few options here. We could reduce the power cost for those who switch and get rid of the VAT on public EV charging costs. Norway is a good example. They gave free exemptions to the toll for EV drivers and gave free local authority parking as well. These aren’t expensive and they went a long way in creating a more positive feel about EVs.”

Circular economyClimate crisisEnergyInnovationNature and the environmentNet zeroSocial sustainability

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