The announcement came against a backdrop of dispute over whether or not Labour would ban new oil and gas, with the party’s trade union backers notably critical of the policy put forward by Shadow Climate Secretary, Ed Miliband.
Ultimately Starmer has adopted a nuanced position, committing the party to ending the licensing of new oil and gas projects should a Labour government be elected whilst honouring and allowing those already granted permission to continue.
In spite of the noises off Starmer’s speech was an interesting and useful sketch of the Party’s thinking on energy policy – the capstone of which is GB Energy that will be based in Scotland. Labour has shed more light on the shape of GB Energy in yesterday’s announcements; a publicly owned energy company that will co-invest with the private sector and local government in renewable energy generation.
Aside from GB Energy, Starmer made headlines with his pledge to unclog planning permission to allow more clean energy to be built and with the announcement of a new ‘National Wealth Fund’ that will invest in clean power projects around the UK.
The backdrop to the speech may have been one of uncertainty around the party’s pledge on new oil and gas but Starmer delivered real clarity on Labour’s plans for energy policy, expanding on previous announcements in a significant way. Much of his speech sought to reassure the energy sector and crucially, the trade unions, for whom Starmer’s promise that the transition away from fossil fuels would put clean jobs at it’s heart will be welcome.
Labour continues to debate its policy platform ahead of next year’s general election and the party are gearing up for the July gathering of the National Policy Forum. At that meeting over 200 delegates will convene to decide what will make up the first draft of the party’s manifesto and while the Party under Keir Starmer is more united than at any time since it left power, there is plenty of potential for member or union led developments in Labour’s thinking on energy.