Written by 16:14 World

Can the Labour Party Bring Back Britain’s Green Groove?

Britain, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, erstwhile coal-burning imperial behemoth, wants to be a “clean energy superpower.”

At least that’s the promise of the next prime minister, Keir Starmer. His Labour Party won the parliamentary elections on Thursday, ending 14 years of Conservative Party rule.

Labour made big campaign promises on climate. How that actually plays out will be felt not only in the daily lives of people in Britain, but also on the nation’s standing in the world.

Britain is one of history’s major climate polluters. It’s where the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century, giving rise to a global economy driven by coal, oil and gas and with it, the emissions of planet-heating greenhouse gases. So the speed and scale of Britain’s energy transition is likely to be closely watched by other industrialized countries and emerging economies alike.

Britain likes to think of itself as a global climate leader. In 2008, it became the first among major industrialized countries to pass a climate change law. Its emissions have dramatically fallen since then. In 2021, its government set a legally binding target to bring down greenhouse gas emissions by 78 percent by 2035, relative to 1990 levels, in one of the most ambitious climate laws in the world.

Getting there, though, is the hard part. The new government will face a cost-of-living crisis at home, geopolitical turbulence abroad and a battery of extreme weather events exacerbated by the rise in fossil-fuel emissions.

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Last modified: 5 July 2024
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