Deeply worrying UK energy policy heads off the rails

In addition to job cuts at DECC, and allegations of misinformation laid before Parliament, what’s the latest from Whitehall? Giles Crosse, our very own superintendent of the ‘Green Police’ makes his assessment as to what’s happening…

Back in June, the business community was rife with speculation; what did the new Government mean for business and the environment?

As 2015 closes, it’s high time for the Content Coms ‘Green Police’ to give an update on recent misdemeanours. The news is not good.

UK emissions set to rise

In early November, the BBC reported the Government’s energy policies will increase CO2 emissions. Its audit finds George Osborne’s changes are scuppering years of climate-positive work. The BBC references a Financial Times (FT) report.

In it, the FT quotes a DECC insider, saying, “Affordability had now taken precedence over emissions.” Lib Dem peer and former coalition government minister Lynne Featherstone told the BBC: “Huskies will be turning in their graves.

“For five years we fought sceptical Tories to invest billions in renewables, set out ambitious climate change targets and create the Green Investment Bank. In six months since (the election) we have seen an unravelling of all these positive changes in favour of short-term financial gain. It is shameful.”

The Tory line consistently argues energy policy must be ‘affordable for hardworking families.’ Perhaps this is why the Government has locked the UK into the Hinkley Point deal, which will bring; “Eye watering price penalties,” on households for years to come, former Tory energy minister Lord Howell of Guildford has warned.

Remember, the profits from this levy on ‘hardworking’ taxpayers will go to French and Chinese firms. The deal is effectively a risk-free guarantee for foreign investors and foreign jobs, while the Government axes support for homegrown renewable businesses.

Why not spend the money on energy-efficiency, which, incidentally, the Chinese seem pretty good at? China’s Government requires a 10% reduction in energy consumption per square meter for commercial buildings, plus a 15% reduction for large commercial buildings with more than 20,000 square meters of floor area by the end of 2015.

Policy reset under way, while Amber Rudd lies to Parliament

In other news, Amber Rudd will close all coal-fired power plants by 2025. This isn’t really news though; the majority were due to shut anyway. A rapid investment in gas, as well as Hinkley Point will be needed to keep the lights on. ‘Rudd’s critics are likely to call the government’s focus on gas and nuclear power short-sighted, as she has cut so many subsidies for renewables and energy efficiency schemes.’ said The Guardian.

Amber Rudd made the announcement days after a letter she wrote was leaked to The Ecologist. It shows the UK is on track to miss its legally binding EU renewables obligations.

The letter identifies a shortfall of almost 25% on renewables targets. Amber Rudd previously told Parliament; “When it became apparent that we were way in excess of [spending limits on renewables], but were still meeting our renewables targets, it was right to limit the amount of money we were spending.”

Her words amount to an outright deception of both Parliament and Britain’s people.

DECC cuts

Finally, DECC will lose 200 jobs, according to The Independent.  Amber Rudd will show her staff the door as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, due at the end of November.

How does the news position the UK ahead of vital forthcoming discussions on climate change in Paris? We’d love to know what you think about these trends. Send us your thoughts here.

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