Reclaiming Power After Brexit: Towards Energy Democracy in the UK
A 2-day working meeting of unions and close allies in the energy democracy movement
February 28th – March 1st 2017
Hosted by: International Transport Workers Federation, ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London, SE1 1DR. Directions here
To accommodate those traveling to London the meeting will start 10:30 a.m. sharp. Proposed Agenda below and here
Includes March 1st (at parliament) meeting with shadow minister Rebecca Long-Bailey, MP, and Alan Whitehead MP. Houses of Parliament, Committee Room 12, (Alan Whitehead is confirmed).
Unions confirmed as of February 21st: UNISON, UNITE, GMB, PCS, TSSA, UCU, FBU, ITF. Also: PSIRU, NUS, Platform, Trade Union Campaign Against Climate Change
Brexit is part of a rapidly changing political landscape in the EU and energy policies and options are a source of tensions and conflict. The election of climate change denier Donald Trump to the White House and his open support for an aggressive export-oriented oil and gas agenda will also have international repercussions, as will his commitment to take the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Meanwhile, the recently released Tory government green paper on industrial strategy reveals an unshakeable commitment to energy policies that have already been seen to fail.
Even before Brexit and Trump, energy policy in the UK and the EU was in turmoil. Investment in energy is falling (particularly in renewables); public private partnerships threaten impose high costs on consumers, and “carbon leakage” is a legitimate concern even though the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme is presently non-functional. Carbon capture projects have been cancelled and there is the potential, at least in the UK, for a major industry push to begin hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.
Reinventing Public Ownership to Reclaim Energy
Trade union support for more democratic control and social ownership of energy resources, infrastructure and options has grown internationally. Here in the UK, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has call for a ‘fundamental shift’ in energy policy. His proposals to democratise the UK energy system and to create new forms of public and community ownership and accountability are a potential “game changer” in terms of the UK’s energy future. These proposals, and the spirit that informs them, provides an opportunity for unions and their allies to rally behind and shape a new energy and climate agenda with where social ownership and community and municipal control are key features. For unions, this approach to energy democracy could create a means to overcome existing divisions and tensions between unions in different sectors.
The provisional aims and objectives of the meeting are:
- To examine how unions, in the context of Brexit and the broader crisis of the EU, can turn their formal commitment to public approaches to energy into a more fleshed out and compelling strategy to create and protect jobs, ensure a “just transition,” fight fuel poverty, and reach climate goals.
- To assess the Labour Party’s commitment to a fundamental rethink of energy policy and the Corbyn leadership’s policy proposals to drive renewable power at the municipal level. How does this commitment reinforce Labour’s own approach to industrial strategy and “just transition”?
- To discuss ways for unions to, within the commitment to reclaim and democratize energy, overcome differences over energy options and technologies and to create space for unions from different sectors (such as transport, health, construction, food and agriculture) to contribute towards driving a new energy agenda for the UK.
- To consider how to develop strategies and policies to advance energy democracy in the UK, and to have a strong UK presence at the launch of “TUED Europe” in Geneva during May 2017.
UK unions active in the TUED network are presently developing the program for the meeting. Space is limited. Please register on line or by way of an email to Ali Howes at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
 Carbon Markets After Paris: Trading in Trouble, http://unionsforenergydemocracy.org/facing-up-to-the-failure-of-carbon-markets-tued-working-paper-6-carbon-markets-after-paris-trading-in-trouble/
February 28 Morning: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Where now for energy politics and policy post Brexit? Labour movement and energy transition
- Review of current UK energy policy and industrial strategy
- Labour party proposals for energy transition and new forms of public and community ownership
- National trade union approaches: recognising our divisions and defining common ground in order to move forward — open discussion
Afternoon: 1:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Developing a Coherent Trade Union Approach to Energy Democracy in the UK – Reinventing public ownership to reclaim energy
- Campaigning for Public Ownership of Energy
- Scotland – North Sea to Renewables
- Energy Conservation and Efficiency
Review of key messages for meeting with Rebecca Long-Bailey and Alan Whitehead
March 1st Morning Meet at Parliament 9:45 a.m.
Committee Room 12: Meeting with shadow minister for energy Alan Whitehead will commence 10:15 a.m. in Committee Room 12. Invited: Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Labour’s plans on energy policy and industrial strategy in the context of Brexit
Afternoon (at ITF)
Debrief, next steps regarding:
- Developing a Trade Union Platform for Energy Democracy in the UK (and the role of TUED)
- Building a transnational energy democracy agenda e.g. devolved nations/Europe/transnational including participation in “TUED Europe”
- Future interventions: ETUC; COP 23 in Bonn; other possibilities
Close: approximately 4:30 p.m.