Anas Sarwar unveils Scottish Labour energy transition commission

Elliot Chappell

Anas Sarwar is set to unveil plans for a Scottish energy transition commission at UK Labour conference, outlining how Scotland can protect and create highly skilled jobs in the transition to a net-zero economy.

In his speech to the annual gathering on Sunday, the first in-person conference since 2019, the Scottish Labour leader will tell delegates how the commission will support the development of energy policy in Scotland.

The commission, which will be chaired by former Labour energy minister Brian Wilson, will examine the failures of the energy market including the current spike in gas prices as well as making recommendations on a Glasgow agreement emerging from the COP26 summit taking place later this year.

Commenting ahead of this speech, Sarwar said: “The transition to net-zero holds tremendous opportunities for Scottish manufacturing and our economy, but we cannot trust the SNP to deliver jobs here in Scotland. That’s why this commission will focus relentlessly on how we can make the transition to net-zero deliver work, confidence and prosperity to Scotland.

“We cannot allow a repeat of the end of mining, where communities were hollowed out, workers were stripped of their dignity and our industrial skills base was destroyed. That is the path that the SNP and the Tories have got Scotland on.

“The only way to avoid that injustice is to put at the heart of everything we do a focus on creating and supporting a jobs first transition which has the support of workers and the local communities.

“I am delighted that Brian Wilson will be bringing his expertise to the table and I am excited to see how this commission can help plan a path to a brighter, greener and more prosperous Scotland.”

The SNP government promised to deliver 130,000 green jobs in 2010 but the number of people directly employed in the low-carbon and renewable economy in 2020 was 21,400, which is the lowest level since 2014.

Also addressing conference on Sunday, Ed Miliband will declare that Labour will be the party of “climate and economic justice together” and outline plans to support British manufacturers to “win the global race” to decarbonise.

The Shadow Secretary of State will also describe the current gas price crisis, which has seen several energy firms collapse under rising prices, as a “disaster made in Downing Street” because of the complacency and inaction of government.

He called on ministers last week to cancel the Universal Credit cut, due to take effect next month, in light of rising bills and warned that half a million families will be pushed into poverty as a result of a planned 12% rise in the price cap.

Sarwar will also address a rally on Sunday afternoon, hosted by Labour Movement for Europe and Labour for a European Future, in which he will reaffirm his opposition to Brexit and Scottish independence.

“In Scottish Labour we are proud how hard we fought against Brexit and we will never apologise for that. Brexit is bad for Scotland and bad for the UK. But Scottish independence would multiply that damage,” he will say.

“We don’t defeat nationalism and division with more nationalism and division. But we must also fight for as close a relationship with the EU as possible. A close relationship with our European neighbours is vital for Britain’s future. And that’s why Labour is vital for Britain’s future.”

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