Corporate presence at party conference shows Labour is no climate justice champion

Labour leader Keir Starmer delivering his keynote speech at the 2023 annual party conference.
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Another conference, more politicians half-assing it on the climate crisis. This year, the Conservative and Labour Party conferences were jam-packed with discussions on climate. Between the two, the Labour Party came out clearly ahead on its climate pledges – but that’s only because the Tory Party’s plans are just that abysmal.

Labour boasted how it is “on the side of the British people”. However, the climate-wrecking corporate bodies flooding the Labour fringe events told a different story.

Climate pledges at the Labour Party conference

At first glance, Labour’s climate plans appeared to offer a greener alternative to the Tories’ recent lurch towards borderline climate denialism.

Helena Bennett, head of climate policy group Green Alliance UK, noted the huge number of climate-focused events:

Though, as the Canary previously pointed out about the Tory party conference agenda awash in net zero talks – this doesn’t necessarily translate into concrete climate action.

Even so, the leadership’s climate focus scored some points among Labour conference-goers and climate Twitter alike:

Shadow secretary for energy security and net zero Ed Miliband also laid out the party’s vision for tackling the crisis:

The Guardian’s Helena Horton remarked on Labour’s break from the Tory party’s hostility to onshore wind and solar:

Labour conference falls short on meaningful climate action

Yet despite the supposed climate pledge fanfare, some members of the climate Twitter community weren’t wholly won over.

Non-profit War on Want criticised the party’s fixation on nascent climate technologies:

Moreover, the charity underscored that these particular solutions often come with a heavy ecological and social price-tag:

Meanwhile, Greenpeace’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom decried the party’s failure to make the rich pay up for the green transition:

But then, Starmer’s corporate-suck-up Labour Party was hardly going to bite the hand that feeds it millions in donations.

Climate-wrecking corporate sponsors

Naturally then, the Tories weren’t the only party pandering to big polluters this conference season.

Campaign group Green New Deal Rising interrupted a talk by oil and gas industry lobby body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK). OEUK represents a membership teeming in fossil fuel companies and contractors. Naturally, this includes oil majors such as BP, Chevron, Exxonmobil, and Equinor.

At the end of September, OEUK chief executive David Whitehouse called for “more projects like Rosebank” – the climate-wrecking oil and gas field project. So the protesters took them to task at the Labour fringe event:

Spurning the protesters demands, shadow decarbonisation minister Sarah Jones said at the event that:

We’re not going to unpick the decisions that are made now, because that wouldn’t be fair on industry

Climate site Desmog has also identified that some of the same industry lobbyists were schmoozing attendees at both party conferences. For example, this included the Carbon Capture and Storage Association. The lobbying body boasts bigwigs in the oil and gas industry among its leadership and general membership.

As the Canary has previously pointed out, carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a climate ‘solution’ favoured by fossil fuel companies. This is because CCS lends the industry a lifeline to continue their destructive business-as-usual. It figures that the industry is hedging its bets by sponsoring events at both party conferences.

When it comes down to it then, Labour is a far cry from climate justice champion. Instead, its corporate connections confound its climate ambitions. Ultimately, the party will readily throw working class and/or minoritised communities – and the planet – under the bus. The only difference is that this bus might be electric.

Feature image via Guardian News/Youtube screengrab

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  • Show Comments
    1. Here in the north-east of England, our far-seeing, Tory mayor of Tees Valley, Ben Houchen, has been talking up one of the replacements for the British Steel plant near Redcar on the coast as supposedly green:

      “Groundbreaking work has begun at the former Redcar steelworks which will become the home to the world-leading Net Zero Teesside Power project – an important moment for Teesworks, Teesside and the UK’s low carbon ambitions.

      The preparatory work by Teesworks is underway following the recent signing of an option-for-lease agreement between NZT Power partners bp and Equinor, and Teesworks. The deal could see the multi-billion pound scheme become an anchor tenant at Teesworks – the UK’s largest industrial zone.

      NZT Power aims to be the world’s first gas-fired power station with carbon capture and storage capability, and will help drive Teesside’s aim to become the UK’s first decarbonised industrial cluster as early as 2030.”

      Giving the lie to the notion that Net Zero is anything more than a means for fossil fuels to continue under a greenwashed cover. Both the of the UK’s political parties are united in their mania to continue the drive for economic growth at any cost.

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