Carbon Diary: Coalition back to green square one
To Liverpool and the Lib Dems, where yet another leading figure in the Coalition was softening up his audience for cuts to green budgets. Speaking at a Climate Clinic fringe meeting on Monday 20 September, Andrew George MP, Lib Dem backbench lead on the environment, referred to “big picture” realities at DECC. Half of its £3.2bn budget was untouchable expenditure on nuclear decommissioning. He warned us to expect savings of 25% to 40% from the non-nuclear half of DECC’s budget, the green bit. And last Thursday in the Commons DECC Energy Minister Charles Hendry repeated his reservations over DECC support for solar panel investment.
“We inherited schemes from the previous Administration that were extremely generous but which were not absolutely clear as to who was going to pay for them and how they were going to be paid for.”
A far cry from his support for solar PV (photovolatic) power in Opposition. So there’s now a new campaign supporting solar power.
But the Climate Clinic meeting was good, with unanimous support for a Green Investment Bank from all the speakers: TUC, New Economics Foundation, and Peter Bance from Ceres Power, which makes domestic heaters of the future (combined heat and power units). Andrew George said he hoped the GIB will be brought forward.
George had more to say on job opportunities from the Coalition’s Green Deal for domestic energy efficiency: “300,000 jobs in the economy”, apparently. There’s an opportunity to hear directly from Chris Huhne at the TUC’s climate change conference, Alliances for Green Growth, on 11 October, plus workshops on the Green Bank and Green Deal.
Peter Bance said Ceres Power wanted to “industrialise innovations to mass production”. They employ 100 people now, and argue that growth will come if we engage consumers in green ideas by encouraging them to install energy efficient boilers that generate heat and power. The UK was good at invention and getting better at deploying, but was a “car crash” at mass manufacturing where the real employment opportunities lie. The Green Investment Bank shouldn’t only be seen as a source of investment for major capital projects, but also as a bridge to support new investment in green manufacturing.
It feels that we are right back to square one, even relaunching renewables campaigns that were meant to be over.