Energy is vital for human sustainability but the issue isn’t whether we will run out. The issue is climate change and how it has altered the way we must think about consumption. Changing the fundamental thought processes about energy and its effects on the environment is vital, with further investment into renewables. But with the potential of an energy crisis within the UK, we must react now but what can be done?

The Labour Energy Forum (LEF) was conceived for this purpose and ideal, to further the thought and debate on UK energy. The UK needs to change its views fundamentally about climate change and it needs to become a party crossover ideology.

What is Labour Energy Forum?

LEF is a space for Labour party members to discuss the ongoing energy problems, and existential crisis that the country will face. Where individuals can discuss and promote progressive ways to tackle the inevitable energy crisis, if we continue to pursue current energy policy. Fossil fuels are subsidised but a just transition for workers is nowhere in sight.

Large multinationals make huge profits at the expense of ordinary citizens, whilst the decision making of our energy future is out of the hands of the communities it effects. They must come together and debate what the future will be for our energy and how to achieve a just transition for workers

LEF will host a diverse set of ideas, opinions and recognises the importance of a just transition, it is committed in achieving the following: a socially just, democratic, and ecologically sustainable energy system; a democratic alternative to a neoliberal privatised, fossil fuel-focused energy system; an intersectional understanding of power and oppression.

Successes and potential

Nottingham’s Robin Hood Energy, launched by Nottingham City Council to provide low energy costs to households and businesses. With no shareholders or director bonuses, it is a company that is completely not-for-profit (NFP).

A progressive solution that has been touted is divest-reinvestment of pension funds, from fossil fuel assets to a more sustainable new economy and society.

There is only one council in the country that has begun the process so far, and that is the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

The 4 Labour councillors agreed that this was needed and convince the single Conservative councillor to support it. Since early 2016 they have begun the process of divesting the £23.9 million invested in oil and gas companies of their £735 million pension fund, away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy solutions such as wind power.

The figures show that there is currently £230 billion worth of pension funds across the country, with approximately 6% (£14 billion) invested in fossil fuel corporations. We also know that 80% of our oil, gas and coal must stay in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change. This means that fossil fuels will become obsolete far sooner than originally anticipated.

It is a financially strong argument, due to pension funds that aren’t invested in fossil fuels often perform as well as or better than those which are. But £14 billion can be further invested in those communities, possibly building over 200,000 houses or generating more electricity than Scotland uses. The potential of divest-reinvest into communities is endless and the benefit will affect everyone, this is an option that must explored by all councils.

The need for progressive energy

Energy has long been dominated by the Big-Six companies, and whilst a single one doesn’t have a monopoly. They only really compete and this allows them to regulate the prices between them, because there is no real alternative.

Energy is on the brink of a crisis and whilst we haven’t hit that point yet, ‘solutions’ like fracking only further to lock us into an energy infrastructure that will be long out of date, when we would have needed to move on. That is why progressive solutions are desperately needed now, before we are amid an energy crisis.