Climate campaigners challenge Rishi Sunak’s new gas power station commitment

'Dirty fossil fuels are what got us into this mess': The Tories abysmal record on clean energy investment condemned

power station UK energy

Climate groups have challenged the prime minister’s promise today to build new gas power plants, drawing attention to the government’s abysmal record of investing in clean energy.  

Campaign organisations have argued against making Britain more dependent on fossil fuels and have blasted ministers over years of failure to put green energy ahead of oil and gas. 

The government has said it will commit to building new gas power plants in order ‘to stop blackouts’ arguing the plans are needed to secure the UK’s energy security. However green campaigners have argued this will set the UK further back on climate commitments. 

Mike Childs, head of policy and research at Friends of the Earth said keeping the UK ‘hooked on gas’ while failing to invest fast enough in renewable energy will see the UK ‘easily’ miss the 2030 carbon reduction target, promised by the Prime Minister at international climate talks. 

“Dirty fossil fuels are what got us into the mess of high energy bills and a rapidly destabilising climate – more of the same is not the solution,” Childs argued. “Clean, cheap renewable energy is at our fingertips waiting to be unleashed.”

Last year the UK government was criticised by industry insiders for its “disastrous” handling of an auction into offshore wind, resulting in no additional offshore wind farms going ahead, which Childs said had further put the country behind. 

“The UK has an abundance of homegrown renewable energy potential – harnessing this would drive down bills, create jobs, strengthen the economy and boost our energy security,” he said. 

“Much like our reservoirs store rain from the winter for use in the summer, it’s entirely possible to capture excess renewable energy to be used later when in shorter supply.”

Doug Parr from Greenpeace UK also stressed the link between Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels and high energy bills. Only by upgrading the country’s ageing grid and by attracting massive private investment to develop renewables can make Britain move to a low-cost, secure and clean energy system, Parr argued. 

“The government’s cunning plan to boost energy security and meet our climate goals is to make Britain more dependent on the very fossil fuel that sent our bills rocketing and the planet’s temperature soaring,” said Parr. 

“But this government has failed on both fronts,” he added. “They’ve blocked cheap onshore wind, botched the latest offshore wind auction and left new solar and wind projects waiting for over a decade to connect to the grid.

“And now, with the energy secretary and the prime minister banging on about building more gas plants, they could further put off green energy investors, which will surely damage our energy security, not improve it.”

Lib Dem MP Richard Foord blamed the Tories failure to invest in green policies such as home insulation for the current argument about the need to rely on more fossil fuels.

The MP for Tiverton & Honiton wrote on X: “Had the Conservatives kept investing in insulating homes over the past decade, as LibDems did in Govt, we’d have cheaper bills, more clean energy, and greater energy security. Instead, we are faced with a Government committing to more carbon emissions.”

(Image credit: D1v1d / Flickr)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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