Keir Starmer’s ambitious plans to transform Britain’s energy mix aim to please everyone but slyly places some of the dirty work in the hands of the current UK Government.

In a similar way to Nicola Sturgeon’s climate credentials, the UK Labour leader is aiming high. But with a Labour government at Westminster looking like a real possibility, Sir Keir will be judged on whether he can match his rhetoric with real action – something the Scottish Government has so far lacked.

The Labour leader wants to end new oil and gas exploration licences being granted. Not that long ago, SNP ministers were criticising the UK Government for toying with the idea of expanding the retrieval of fossil fuels.

In November, Scottish environment minister turned Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan boldly told MSPs that “we do not agree with the UK Government issuing new oil and gas licences”.

She appears to have since changed her tune.

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The SNP has wasted no time in criticising Labour for committing to end the expansion of oil and gas licences.

This key pledge, which has been tweaked to try and soften it, has upset the trade unions, not a section Labour will be comfortable rocking the boat with.

The unions quite rightly fear for jobs, despite pledges from both Labour and the Scottish Government that it will be a “just transition”.

Both those parties have trotted out the mantra that Scotland does not want a repeat of the coal miners in the 1980s, and both parties, in reality, are pretty much on the same page when it comes to energy.

There are still key differences – nuclear power for one. Sir Keir’s energy pitch pointed to expanding nuclear power, an aim shared by the Conservatives but opposed by the SNP.

Nuclear power could play a key part in the UK and Scotland’s energy mix in reaching net zero, but the SNP continues to oppose the technology, which it can veto through devolved planning powers.

But both a future UK Labour government and the current Scottish Government want to put most of their energy stock in renewables – a sensible move in terms of climate and the economy.

Labour has refused to say the controversial and gigantic Rosebank oil field should not go ahead, which has angered some climate groups and the Scottish Greens.

Ed Miliband insisted to journalists in Leith that energy experts are fine with nations allowing projects that have started to continue, with Rosebank technically falling into that category.

Crucially for Labour, allowing the Tory government to give Rosebank and other schemes the green light before they bring in a fossil fuels ban allows the transition to take place over a longer time period but keep their own hands relatively clean.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told journalists that the North Sea oil and gas sector will continue to burn fossil fuels “into the 2050s”, despite Scotland setting a net zero date of 2045 and the UK pledging to end its contribution to the climate crisis by 2050.

Labour’s vision is trying to keep everyone happy – a strategy Sir Keir is no stranger to as he walks the flip-flop tightrope between the left and the right wing of his party and the country.

The Herald:

Banning oil fields sounds great for Sir Keir’s climate credentials, but allowing the latest flurry to be approved makes the job easier for the industry and arguably the economy without rolling up his own sleeves to personally pay lip service to the big energy companies.

Scaling up wind power sounds like the most sensible energy strategy going, but commitments on ensuring turbines are built at home and other renewables like tidal and wave investing in the UK without much proof it will happen, as Labour has tabled, raises key questions.

Labour is keen to tap into fears over soaring energy prices, rightly pointing out that renewable homegrown energy is the cheapest and most secure method of keeping the lights on.

Arguably all of these ambitions are likely to have been made easier and cheaper if the UK was a member of the European Union – something Sir Keir, particularly in Scotland, will struggle to square his opposition to.

Labour confirmed its new publicly-owned energy company, GB Energy – already being shortened to GBE by Labour politicians – would be based in Scotland.

But with concerns about the oil and gas sector’s fairing in the strategy, eyebrows will have been raised that the launch did not take place in Aberdeen, with the party confirming the location of the new headquarters has not been decided yet.

The choice of location was Nova Innovation, a successful tidal energy company based in Leith. But other than an acknowledgement that tidal could be important, Sir Keir seldom mentioned...

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