Mid-term blues for greens?
The absence of any fresh policies to reinforce the Coalition’s green credibility stands out in the Cameron-Clegg mid-terms review. “Climate change is one of the gravest threats we face and we have to confront it,” the review states. “We have created one of the best environments in the world both for renewables and for gas and nuclear, providing certainty for investors…” But that wasn’t the opinion of UK-based multinational technology leaders who expressed concern last autumn over “the level of political risk” facing investors, in a letter to the Energy Secretary. Nor that of Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, which reports that “the attractiveness of the UK investment framework has worsened notably compared to 2010.”
The unequivocal endorsement of the government’s climate change strategy is welcome. But it would carry more weight if it were translated into a carbon cutting commitment on the face of the Energy Bill.
Among the list of 20 claimed “fixes” in the Energy & Climate Change section of Fixing the economy, half overlap or repeat (eg the Green Investment Bank, the Energy Bill and the Doha climate talks feature twice). There are no new announcements. And one “fix” seems to involve less support for investment in carbon capture & storage technology:
- Mid-term review: “We have allocated £1 billion for carbon capture and storage,” (which is just about sufficient for one project).
- Coalition programme for government: “We will continue public sector investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for four coal-fired power stations.”
The review flags up the policies announced in the Autumn Statement, including the creation of a new Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil (ie fracking), and a gas strategy on which the independent Committee on Climate Change commented: “Early decarbonisation of the power sector should be plan A – and the dash for gas Plan Z.”
Nevertheless, the national roll out of smart meters from next year, the commitment to support “flood prone communities access to insurance” and the promotion of the “electrification of the car fleet” are all key initiatives, although again, there is a lack of real substance or new thinking.
Business Green comments that the CBI also gave the latest relaunch a muted welcome. For Andy Atkins at FoE: “Blue and yellow hasn’t produced green.”