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July Conference: Can Britain benefit from renewable energy products?

The Workers Party is holding a Day Conference on 1st July to discuss how to rebuild British industry. The Conference is for Members Only and invited guests. In the run up to Conference we are publishing a number of pieces submitted for the purposes of stimulating discussion around the theme of reviving British industry, the challenges of AI and automation and the role of vocational education.

All our articles in this series are produced by ordinary members, we have no gilded theoreticians to hand down answers. Our struggle is in learning how to think, rather than being told what to think. Our party encourages the active participation of the membership in discussing shared problems and our policy response. This piece has been submitted by Jesse.

Investment and the race for green jobs

A key factor holding back the rebirth of British industry is lack of state investment. Economist Mariana Mazzucato famously demonstrated in her book The Entrepreneurial State that the state, even under capitalism, is vastly more capable in making long term investments as opposed to the short termism of the private sector. The latter is crippled by a form of economic ADHD whereas the state is capable of maximising efficiency through long term planning.

However the state under capitalism has other prerogatives. The British state today wants our country to be a proxy of NATO imperialism hence vast sums of money are being spent to prop up the puppet regime in Kiev under Zelensky. Billions can be saved by leaving NATO and ending our imperialistic adventures abroad to finance investment in research and development.

The capitalist state is also beholden to the interests of the billionaire class and is controlled by the latter. This prevents the capitalist state from instituting a progressive tax system like one proposed by the Communist Party of Britain to abolish council tax and tax locally on the basis of landed wealth and high income. A financial transactions tax would be another way to raise finances for large-scale investment.

A key example of the prerogatives of the capitalist state can be seen in a broken promise by the coalition government of 2010 that pledged to reopen coal-fired power stations with adequate carbon capture systems (CCS). However, investment in CCS technology ran against the austerity agenda and the policy was shelved. This not only was a missed opportunity to reinvigorate coal-fired energy production and perhaps attain self-sufficiency in coal production but a missed opportunity in an increasingly lucrative export market.

Xi Jinping, the president of what is becoming the most powerful country on earth, China, has declared that China will reach the zenith of fossil fuel consumption by 2030 then will become carbon neutral by 2060. China’s strategy of using its natural fuels to build capacity for a green transition is working. It overtook the EU in renewable energy patents eventually leading the world in the revolution of low-carbon tech.

Baron Stern of Brentford and author of the Stern Report predicted that the market for low-carbon energy products will be worth at least $500 billion by 2050. This is an industry in which the UK can play a key role and reclaim its place as the workshop of the world with the right amount of investment and industrial capacity. Such capacity must be created by maximising energy efficiency in the present for social and economic welfare by reopening coal mines with adequate CCS infrastructure and finishing the construction of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

Even for those who do not support the narrative of climate justice, cleaner means of energy production benefit the environment in a variety of ways from reducing air pollution to a reduction in hazardous waste. Economically, the rising prestige of China and their drive to a green transition presents tremendous export opportunities that can be capitalised on with the right amount of investment.

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