30 Sep 2010

Plug the climate loophole: Coalition failing us?

Avaaz reports that next week, a small group of European countries are planning to create a massive loophole that would further undermine the prospects of the upcoming global climate talks. A strong stance from the UK now could halt their plan, but only a national outcry will persuade the government to step up. However as I discuss below there have been some worrying developments....

Pic: This painting of Stroud covered in turbines that seem to be killing a bird used to be displayed in Nelson Street: suspect it was an anti-turbine pic but really a few of those turbines would be great!! Infact I think consultation is still open on turbines locally - see here.

First the Avaaz petition: "Since the Copenhagen summit, global climate negotiations have been on the brink of collapse, and a breakthrough is urgently needed. Now, Sweden, Finland and Austria are leading a push for an accounting trick that would let rich countries cut down as many trees as they wanted -- without having to report the increased climate damage. The UK is well-placed to rally other European countries and stop this scam. But the new government hasn’t yet made up its mind on the issue. We know they want to be seen as the greenest government ever, and this is their chance to start strongly on the international climate stage. Let’s send a flood of messages to Climate Minister, Chris Huhne, urging him to be bold on climate and make forests count at next week’s meeting." Click below to take action:

This will be a real test as I do have to note some very worrying developments - just last week The Guardian reported that the Government has reneged on pre-election promises to tackle illegally logged timber imports and reward green energy 'pioneers' - see here report with comments from Caroline Lucas. Indeed in another Guardian item they write: "Aside from pantomime hostility towards Labour figures who most Lib Dems feel are being too harsh in their attacks, underneath the surface activists and some MPs are worried they may struggle in election fights against Labour or the Green party."

You can see Caroline Lucas' comments about Huhne here....“a combination of half-hearted measures and bad policy.” Huhne did make some important statements about insulating homes but now it looks like his whole department is under threat - see here. As Lucas notes: "Nobody who understands the urgency and the seriousness of the climate crisis could even contemplate decimating the department that leads the effort to deal with it."

George Monbiot highlights that we are still prospecting for oil
..."We can't use it – so why the heck are we prospecting for new oil? To stop runaway climate change we have to get out of fossil fuels. Drilling off Shetland and in the Arctic makes no sense." The government has even promised new tax breaks for oil companies working in UK waters in next year's finance bill. This is madness!

Meanwhile the Feed-In tariffs are now under review - see FT here - In my film this week about the Eco-Renovation Open Homes weekend I mention these tariffs and indeed in my letter this week in Stroud Life - now it seems this recent mini-boom in solar power could be in jeopardy, as the government has privately indicated that new feed-in tariffs that have fuelled the industry could be slashed.

The FT writes: "If such cuts are adopted, renewable energy experts fear that it will scare off investors with repercussions throughout the industry. To change the subsidy system just when you can see the success it has had beggars belief, said one. Renewable energy investors...will lose faith in this government. Industry insiders also accused the government of hypocrisy. They say that while Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, was promising the Liberal Democrat conference 250,000 green jobs as part of a revolutionary deal to cut emissions, government advisers were holding meetings in back rooms at which they flagged up potential cuts to the feed-in tariffs (FITs). Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council, a trade ! association for domestic renewables, said: We are alarmed to hear the coalition may be considering the unprecedented move of unravelling policies that were not only its idea, but have only been in place for six months, and against which thousands of jobs have been created and hundreds of millions of pounds invested. Backtracking now would have a profoundly damaging effect on investor confidence and seriously jeopardise ability to meet climate change targets. Daniel Green, chief executive of HomeSun, a solar company, said his business had received 60,000 expressions of interest in the past six weeks from consumers wanting to install panels. Any change to FITs would be deeply damaging. The Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed that the Treasury was examining FITs as part of the comprehensive spending review, even though the subsidies cost comes not from taxpayers but consumer energy bills."


Philip Booth said...

The UK has suffered a second fall in renewable energy production this year.

Guardian 1st Oct 2010


Philip Booth said...

Letter: Along with other CEOs in the UK renewable energy business, I am very concerned about rumours that the spending review could retrospectively alter legislation which came into effect in April on feed-in tariffs. I am the original CEO of the Renewable Energy Association. Since February I have been developing a business based on the FIT legislation. This involves a property group, investors, lawyers, planners, energy consultants, supply-chain specialists, landowners, surveyors and an engineering firm. All of these companies are British, many household names. The business is ready for launch, with all plans made with an assumption that this primary legislation cannot be changed before 2013. As CEO of ! this consortium, I have insisted to members that it would be unprecedented for a UK government to alter law having announced it to the business community and passed legislation. Were the coalition to abandon or negatively alter the basis upon which eight months of intensive research and development have been undertaken, then 1m of entrepreneurial effort would have been wasted. With plans to develop 100MW of renewable energy in 30 months, further capital sums are committed. Should the government cut feed-in tariff rates, confidence would be severely damaged, steering investment abroad. Doubt would be cast on a reliable energy policy framework aimed at carbon reduction and renewable energy targets, leading to the loss of much-needed investment and of confidence among banks. In the event of any negative impact, the consortium I represent would consider legal action for recovery of costs, forgone future profits and punitive damages.

Herald 2nd Oct 2010