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Jeremy Corbyn: Nationalize, Democratize Electricity Grid to Avert Climate Crisis

Labour Party leader calls for 'radical' action to help avert climate catastrophe

"The challenge of climate change requires us to radically shift the way we organize our economy," Jeremy Corbyn said Saturday. (Photo: Andy Miah/flickr/cc)

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said making the nation's electricity grid publicly-owned is the best course to "put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system."

Speaking Saturday at a conference in London, Corbyn decried the failure of privatization of public services and laid out an economic vision that addresses the climate crisis while narrowing inequality.

"The challenge of climate change requires us to radically shift the way we organize our economy," he said.

The Attlee administration that presided over Britain following World War II and created the welfare state, he said, "knew that the only way to rebuild our economy was through a decisive turn to collective action."

"Necessary action to help avert climate catastrophe requires us to be at least as radical," he said.

The Tory-led government of Prime Minister Theresa May has not taken that radical action, Corbyn charged, instead having "licensed fracking, declared a moratorium on renewable levies while massively subsidizing fossil fuels, dithered over tidal, held back onshore wind, U-turned on making all new homes zero carbon, and is failing to take the necessary measures to meet our legal commitments to reduce CO2 emissions."

As such, "A green energy system will look radically different to the one we have today," he said. "The past is a centralized system with a few large plants. The future is decentralized, flexible, and diverse with new sources of energy large and small, from tidal to solar."

"The greenest energy is usually the most local," he said, "but people have been queuing up for years to connect renewable energy to the national grid."

"With the national grid in public hands we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system, committing to renewable generation from tidal to onshore wind."

Such a grid would "act as the great leveler, distributing energy from where it is plentiful to where it is scarce and guaranteeing that everyone has access to clean, affordable energy all of the time," he said.

"Anything else is not only unjust, it risks doing immeasurable harm to the climate cause."

"Because we will only win support for the changes that are needed if we make sure that everyone shares in the benefits," he said, echoing themes of his party's manifesto. The benefits, Corbyn argued, are "not just in cheaper energy, an end to fuel poverty, cleaner air, and a sustainable planet, but also in the creation of new good jobs and industries in renewable energy and green tech across the country."

According to the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group, Corbyn's speech is a "must read for anyone who recognizes that 'business as usual' won't cut it to tackle the climate crisis."

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