New Communist Party of Britain
Rising British energy charges and falling real incomes are forcing growing numbers of working people and even middle-class families to choose between food and heating.
This is partly due to rising world energy prices but in Britain it is exacerbated by the privatised utility and oil companies, which continue increasing charges even when international prices are falling.
The privatisation of formerly public utilities undermines proper planning and democratic control of energy policy, allowing multinational energy companies to rig the British energy market, rather than invest significantly in clean coal, renewable energy, and increased energy efficiency.
In Britain and globally the capitalists deploy battalions of well-paid “experts” to deny global warning, to claim renewable energy is costly and that nuclear energy is cheap and clean.
Britain became a net energy importer in 2005, while over a third of current electricity generation capacity is due to be retired by 2020. It is highly dependent on carbon fuels and increasingly dependent on energy imports. Britain is the most polluted country in the whole of Europe, both east and west.
Coal-fired power stations still produce 30 per cent of Britain’s electricity, but almost 60 per cent of coal supplies are imported, although Britain has enough coal reserves to meet its needs for 500 years. Our ruling class regards a large mining workforce as a threat and prefers to rely on coal produced by low-cost labour in developing countries.
The current policy of heavy state investment in nuclear power reflects the bias towards powerful private energy producers, and the refusal to consider ending Britain’s Trident missile programme. The New Communist Party has long opposed the development of nuclear power in Britain, and we remain opposed on the grounds that:
plutonium waste is a serious hazard for thousands of years and as yet there no safe method of disposal;
nuclear power is linked with nuclear weapons production;
the costs of nuclear waste disposal and of decommissioning old plants make this the most expensive energy option;
there is a long history of environmental pollution, such as that around the Sellafield plant and most of the Irish Sea; and
recent events such as the Fukushima accident have confirmed the danger of nuclear accidents, especially when private interests are involved.
The NCP is also opposed to “fracking” technology to extract gas from rock formations which pollutes water tables and causes earth subsidence.
A major academic study published in 2010, Zero Carbon Britain 2030, shows that with existing technology Britain can almost entirely eliminate its dependence on fossil fuels in two decades.
Britain’s onshore and offshore wind and wave potential alone could provide two-thirds of future carbon-free energy needs, available energy-efficient construction which can cut domestic housing energy needs by 70 per cent; and transport energy use can be cut by 63 per cent.
The New Communist Party calls for:
a planned and integrated national energy policy;major investment in research and development of renewable energy and coal fired power stations using carbon dioxide entrapment ;
developing a mix of energy sources including solar, wind, hydro, wave, geothermal and biomass;Invest into a fully integrated national grid managed and owned as a public service and re-establish the electricity and gas boards;
a comprehensive strategy to reduce per capita energy consumption and systematic public energy awareness campaigns and education;
a shift from private car and road freight to public transport and rail freight, and from petrol to electric and hydrogen engines, converting all rail lines from diesel to electricity, and major development of cycling facilities; and
a more energy-efficient agricultural sector with less meat and poultry and more crops and vegetable production.
We also call for greater research and investment in carbon capture and storage for coal and the potential for re-developing the British coal mining industry.
These measures would reduce Britain’s dependence on energy imports and giant energy corporations, and create skilled employment in new technology industries.
The NCP also supports the Strategy for Sustainable Energy launched by the last Labour government, which aims to make new homes, schools, and public sector buildings zero carbon from 2016 onwards.