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Can Labour revive the green tide in the UK?


Britain is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, once a coal-fired imperial giant, and now wants to become a “Clean energy superpower.”

At least that’s the promise of Keir Starmer, the next prime minister whose Labour Party is expected to win Thursday’s parliamentary election, ending 14 years of Conservative rule.

The Labour Party made major climate promises during the election campaign. The actual delivery of these promises will not only affect the daily lives of the British people, but also the UK’s place in the world.

The UK is one of the biggest climate polluters in history. The industrial revolution originated in the UK in the 18th century, which gave rise to a global economy dominated by coal, oil and gas, and also brought greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Therefore, the speed and scale of the UK’s energy transition is likely to be closely watched by other industrialized countries and emerging economies.

The UK likes to think of itself as a global climate leader. In 2008, it became the first major industrialised country to pass Climate Change Law. Its emissions have fallen dramatically since then. In 2021, the government set a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions By 2035, it will drop by 78%Relative to 1990 levels, this is one of the most ambitious climate laws in the world.

But getting there won’t be easy. The new government will face a cost-of-living crisis at home, geopolitical unrest abroad and a series of extreme weather events exacerbated by rising fossil fuel emissions.

Here are three things to watch as the new administration takes office.

Starmer’s election manifesto promised “zero-carbon electricity by 2030”.

Fortunately for him, the country is already on that path.

It no longer relies on coal for electricity. The last coal-fired power plant is scheduled to close in September. Coal supply has fallen from 40% in 2012 to nearly zero today, according to one power company. Carbon Brief’s analysisan independent climate news website.

The challenge now is to reduce reliance on gas, which supplied just over 30% of Britain’s electricity in 2023. The government must reduce gas supplies to zero by 2030 or find ways to capture and bury the greenhouse gases produced by gas plants.

The Labor leader also said they would double onshore wind capacity, quadruple offshore wind capacity and triple solar capacity.

Jos Garman, executive director of the European Climate Foundation, called the zero-carbon electricity pledge a “stretch goal” that would require changes to the laws governing the approval of wind and solar projects.

Oil production in the North Sea Steady decline This number has declined over the past 20 years and is expected to continue to decline until the middle of this century.

However, the issue of North Sea oil and gas licensing remains politically fraught.

Last year, Rishi Sunak, now the Conservative chancellor, said Britain should “maximise the use” of North Sea oil and gas. He set up a system Issuance of new licensesThis led to the resignation of a former energy minister who said he would Causing “future harm”.

Starmer’s party said existing licences would be respected but no new ones would be issued.

UK oil and gas companies already face a 75% tax. The incoming Labour government has said it will increase that rate slightly to 78%.

There is one more problem: Scotland.

Scottish nationalists have been demanding a greater say over North Sea oil and gas, which lies in Scottish waters. A drop in oil production there is likely to hit communities along Scotland’s northeastern coast first and hardest, whose jobs depend on the industry.

Unlike the United States, there is broad political consensus in the United Kingdom on the need to address climate change. In fact, climate action is a darling of the Conservatives.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sounded the alarm about climate change. Theresa MayJohnson, also a Conservative prime minister, has led the push for a net-zero emissions target by 2050, meaning that by mid-century the UK must remove the same amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as it emits into the atmosphere. In 2021, Boris Johnson’s government pledged to cut emissions by 78% by 2035.

Recently, this goal has changed. Sunak believes that the cost of green transformation is too high. For example, the ban on new oil and diesel cars originally scheduled for 2030 has been postponed to 2035.

Mr Starmer is likely to restore the ban until 2030. He also pledged to double funding for energy efficiency projects and set up a new national energy company, which he said would Reduce energy bills.

At the same time, the far-right Reform Britain party, led by Nigel Farage, also exerted pressure to Abandoning 2050 net zero emissions target Overall, exit polls showed Farage’s party would take a surprising majority in parliament, reflecting the rise of the far right across Europe.

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