Labor promises ‘British jobs bonus’ as it sets out green energy strategy | Work

Clean energy companies would be offered up to £500m a year to establish manufacturing in the UK, to build the wind turbines, solar panels and other infrastructure needed to reach net zero, as part of plans drawn up by Labour.

But Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, also assured the oil and gas industry on Monday that production would continue in the North Sea “for decades to come”, to the dismay of environmental campaigners.

Under plans for a ‘British Jobs Bonus’, Labor would allocate £500m a year for each of the first five years of government, to provide capital grants to companies in low-carbon industries. carbon, including wind and solar power, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

Companies wishing to supply clean energy in the UK, under a continuation of the existing incentive scheme, known as Contracts for Difference, would have to demonstrate that they are creating high quality jobs in United Kingdom. Labor said the bounty would particularly benefit industrial heartlands and coastal communities, as well as areas that have past or current coal, oil and gas industries, and pointed to an independent estimate that 65,000 new jobs could be created this way.

Starmer told an audience of energy experts and green campaigners in Edinburgh on Monday that the Conservative government and the Scottish National Party had failed to secure green jobs in the UK. “Britain has the second largest offshore wind capacity in the world, second only to China, but across the North Sea in Denmark it has three times as many jobs. How do you explain that? ” He asked.

“How do you explain the Scottish wind turbines being built in Spain, Holland and Indonesia, while the workers in the fabrication yards of Fife – who would be proud to build something great in their country – look out their windows and watch each other put them up. the Forth? There’s no justification.”

While extolling the virtues of clean energy, however, Starmer was also careful to reassure his audience that jobs in the North Sea oil and gas fields were not at risk. Labor has vowed to halt licensing of new oil and gas fields, but will not seek to revoke licenses issued by the Tories, or halt production from existing fields.

It means the controversial Rosebank field in the North Sea, for which final clearance is believed to be imminent, could go ahead and Labor would not revoke the license if elected. Halting production from fields already licensed would be legally tricky, and any future government that does so could be subject to claims of billions of dollars in compensation. Taking such a stance could also scare off investors now and lead to a messy situation in the North Sea, rather than a managed transition away from fossil fuels.

Union leaders sharply criticized Starmer earlier this month for his plans to suspend North Sea licenses, calling the proposals “naive” and saying they threatened current and future jobs. Starmer, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar also struggled throughout Monday’s policy launch to reiterate that North Sea oil and gas would be needed “to decades to come”.

Ed Miliband, the shadow climate and net zero secretary, told the Guardian that Labour’s policy was in line with scientific advice on keeping heating below 1.5C. The International Energy Agency warned in 2021 that no new oil and gas exploration could take place after that date, if the 1.5C limit were to be maintained, but current production must not cease immediately. . Miliband said the North Sea was already in decline, so a transition to green energy offered an opportunity.

“We will continue to use the existing fields, we will not turn off the taps,” Miliband said. “But what they [the IEA] say is that governments should not issue new licenses. This is the science-based, evidence-based position. It is also good for energy security.

Green activists said it would be necessary to turn off the taps. Mary Church, Campaigns Manager at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Say no to new licenses is an important start, but the Labor leader must go further and stand up to oil and gas companies who are ripping off households and taking advantage of them. . as the planet burns.

“All parties must recognize that no new projects can go ahead and that some existing oil wells will have to be phased out before they run out. If Rosebank, or any other development, is approved by the current UK government , it will have to be closed by the next British government.

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