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:
There are a ~staggering~ number of energy / climate / net zero events at #LabourConference23 – a sign of the times: people & businesses are invested in the future of the planet 🌏
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— Helena (@helena_bennett_) October 9, 2023
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:
Keir Starmer tells #LabourConference23 : “When Rishi Sunak says row back on our climate mission, I say speed ahead.”
And the crowd goes wwWiilLDDdddD
— Robbie MacPherson (@RobbieMac_) October 10, 2023
Shadow secretary for energy security and net zero Ed Miliband also laid out the party’s vision for tackling the crisis:
Ed Miliband, "The Tories climate culture war is not just anti planet. It's anti security. Anti prosperity. Anti worker. Anti business. Anti jobs. Anti future. Anti young people. Anti Britain. And we're not going to let the Tories cancel our countries future." #Lab23 pic.twitter.com/ElivIe5NAB
— Farrukh (@implausibleblog) October 9, 2023
The Guardian’s Helena Horton remarked on Labour’s break from the Tory party’s hostility to onshore wind and solar:
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said she'd reform planning rules to put net zero at their heart – ending the tory trend of using the national planning policy framework to block onshore wind and (soon) solar. This comes after my solar scoop on Sunday – https://t.co/AGSjf8X059
— Helena Horton (@horton_official) October 9, 2023
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:
Labour called for more jobs in unproven carbon capture technologies & a rush to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles in the name of economic growth.
This takes us one step forward and another step backward. We cannot solve the climate crisis with unproven technologies.
— War on Want (@WarOnWant) October 9, 2023
Moreover, the charity underscored that these particular solutions often come with a heavy ecological and social price-tag:
We cannot build #ClimateJustice by swapping an economy built on the never-ending dangerous & damaging extraction of fossil fuels, for one built on the never-ending dangerous & damaging extraction of metals and minerals.
📖We must move beyond extraction.https://t.co/Y9EaG9UYDl
— War on Want (@WarOnWant) October 9, 2023
Meanwhile, Greenpeace’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom decried the party’s failure to make the rich pay up for the green transition:
Less good or unclear are the party’s refusal to deliver wealth redistribution at the same time as boosting wealth generation. Madness given the popularity of wealth taxes, growing income inequality and the desperate need to fund more revenue spend to deliver a fair transition.
— Rebecca Newsom (@Rebecca_Newsom) October 9, 2023
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:
BREAKING: Offshore Energies UK fought hard for Rosebank’s approval, which is why we disrupted their event at Labour conference today.
Labour should be protecting workers and our future, not continuing relationships with fossil fuel lobbyists.
Keir Starmer must revoke Rosebank! pic.twitter.com/JAFuD7niRH
— Green New Deal Rising (@GNDRising) October 9, 2023
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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