Will Tim Yeo's amendment on carbon make it into the Energy Bill - or will George Osborne again thwart the green path?
In October, 50 major high street brands wrote to the prime minister urging him to support it. In November, eight senior businesspeople, including the chief executives of Unilever and Philips Electronics, did the same, as did a coalition of the world’s biggest investment fund managers.
The manufacturers’ organisation has called for it; the World Energy Council has called for it; the Women’s Institute wants it; four of the largest Free Church denominations in Britain want it; Labour wants it, the Lib Dems want it, swing voters want it…
So when the draft Energy Bill was published last month and a goal to remove carbon from our electricity sector by 2030 wasn’t included, there was understandable consternation. That prodigious blue roadblock, George Osborne, had once again hurled himself into the path of green growth.
Today, a clean energy sector is back on the table, thanks to Tim Yeo MP’s plan to amend the Bill. In a strongly worded speech this morning at Bloomberg HQ, Yeo said he would not stand by and watch the wrong decisions being made on energy policy.
He argued that
“…lumbering the UK with a power system reliant on gas would be like running an office using a fax machine in the age of the iPad.”
So why is George so hung up on the fax and not the facts?
An undercover Greenpeace investigation recently revealed the chancellor has been manoeuvring anti-Green Tories into key positions in order to back-peddle on clean energy and climate commitments. This is the same Osborne who, in opposition, complained that “when it comes to environmental policy the Treasury has often been at best indifferent and at worst obstructive”.
The gas lobby has seemingly turned turquoise into cobalt in the space of just three years.
The green economy provided one third of all UK growth in the last year.
Tim Yeo clearly recognises the political risk of pacifying the Tory right at the expense of safeguarding jobs and kickstarting recovery. He understands the stupidity of creating a carbon-intensive energy system at the time we should be switching to a clean, safe, renewable energy supply. And he grasps the folly of locking consumers into an increasing reliance on the very fossil fuel that’s already pushing them into fuel poverty.
With Yeo’s amendment, the fight is now on, and the stakes could not be higher – for jobs and sustainable growth, for our electricity bills and for our climate.
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• Nef: Osborne’s dash for gas will worsen fuel poverty – December 6th, 2012
• Osborne’s ‘dash for gas’ dashes hopes for growth – December 4th, 2012
• Yeo attacks “Thick of It” energyshambles and warns about uncertainty – November 19th, 2012
• Energy companies warn Osborne: Go green or we’ll leave Britain – October 8th, 2012
• Friends of the Earth: Balls must challenge the anti-green chancellor – September 28th, 2012