Two months after re-election in May 2015, the government appears to be reneging on its commitment to tackle climate change and moving Britain towards a low carbon economy.
2015 is a pivotal year for climate change negotiations, culminating in the Paris summit in December. Despite the pre-election pledge made by all three main parties to tackle climate change, one described by Paul Polman CEO of Unilever as “one whose importance cannot be overstated…and a terrific example of other countries to follow” , the government is taking us in the opposite direction.
- Subsidies for wind and solar power have been cut: according to Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, wind and solar can prosper in the UK without subsidy, a claim refuted by campaigners and industry experts who point to investor uncertainty and the risk to thousands of jobs .
- Zero Carbon Homes Budget has also been scrapped – as part of the kind of red tape which in the government’s eyes, is holding back new building projects and the productivity of the economy. The initiative focused on radically reducing the emissions from housing through a combination of energy-efficient building design and use of low or zero-carbon energy generation, such as solar panels and its withdrawal has been described by experts as a huge setback in the path to a low carbon UK, and undermines the credibility of government energy and climate policy .
- Increased taxes for low carbon energy: the climate change levy is now being imposed on all energy generation including renewables, despite the fact that it was intended to bridge the gap between the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which undervalues the cost of carbon, and the actual cost . The fund manager Neil Woodford, who has Drax among his holdings, says the move by the Government to make renewable firms pay the levy will create mistrust among investors and private industry.
- In contrast, Fracking is receiving huge tax breaks, even as environmental groups suggested it would make it impossible for the UK to meet emission reduction targets.