KCCC statement on Jason McCartney’s response to KCCC lobbying on the Energy Bill, the Climate Act and Fuel Poverty campaigns

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A) 24th November Lobby

On Saturday 24th November a number of individuals from the ColneValley constituency met with Jason McCartney to lobby him on the Energy Bill and the Climate Act.

The Energy Bill

Our ‘lobby ask’ was that the Energy Bill should include a target for decarbonising the electricity supply by 2030 and that Jason McCartney, like some other Conservative MPs should come out in support of the target.

We drew Jason McCartney’s attention to a number of different points:

1) The government’s own Committee on Climate Change says it needs to happen- as does Tim Yeo, chair of Commons Committee on Energy and CC and the CBI.

2) Nearly 30% of UK GHG emissions from the electricity. It’s also easier to decarbonise than other sectors.

3) Very unlikely that we could meet the 80% cut in CO2 by 2050 without decarbonising electricity by 2030.

4) The upfront costs of decarbonising electricity would be offset by the falling costs in renewables, the projected rises in wholesale gas, the macroeconomic benefits of developing the Green economy and the falling costs of dealing with climate change (if national action is replicated around the world).

You can read the document that we produced – including a ten point rebuttal of the argument that decarbonising is expensive at the foot of this text (‘Green is Working lobby’) . A copy of this was given to Jason McCartney.

For further information please see : https://kirkleescampaignagainstclimatechange.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/campaigners-call-for-clean-british-energy/

http://www.stopclimatechaos.org/giw-asks/

The key document is Friends of the Earth’s report. See: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/plan_cbe_report.pdf

The Climate Act

The ‘lobby ask’ was that emissions for aviation and shipping should be included in the Climate Act. We summarised the key points from reports by the RSPB and Airportwatch to explain how the inclusion of emissions from aviation and shipping was essential to the integrity of the Climate Act.

Jason McCartney’s response to Energy Bill and Climate Act asks

We were really pleased that Jason McCartney asked a question to Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change at the first reading of the Energy Bill on Thursday 29th November. The text of the question and reply is:

from http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121129/debtext/121129-0002.htm#12112958002077

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): Will the Secretary of State explain again how the UK will be able to meet its commitment to cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 if we are not ready to commit to decarbonising electricity by 2030?

Mr Davey: We are on track and we will hold to our commitments in the Climate Change Act. I refer my hon. Friend to my recent comments on the decarbonisation target being set at the same time as the fifth carbon budget covers the period from 2028 to 2033, and it therefore covers 2030, the year of the decarbonisation target in the power sector. The two approaches will therefore be brought together.

Following the lobby we wrote to Jason McCartney and asked him if he could tell us whether or not he supports the statements below:

“The Energy Bill going through Parliament should include a clear target to make sure electricity generation is carbon free by 2030. This will avoid more expensive cuts to other sectors to achieve our carbon targets. It will also give energy companies the confidence to invest and innovate and further develop the green economy that accounted for 1/3 of UK growth in 2011.”

and

“It is crucial to the integrity of the Climate Act that international Aviation and Shipping emissions are included. As part of the UK’s action to avoid dangerous climate change we need to include these sources of greenhouse gas emissions in carbon budgets.”

The Energy Bill/ Decarbonising the Electricity Supply

Jason McCartney’s reply stated “I’m pleased that the new Energy Bill will put a fair price on carbon, providing a stronger incentive to invest in low carbon generation now. As part of this Bill, powers to set a decarbonisation target range for 2030 will be brought forward in secondary legislation. As you know a decision on this will only be taken once the Climate Change Committee has provided advice in 2016 on the 5th Carbon Budget which covers the corresponding period.”

He also said “I firmly believe the government is doing a lot of good things in the Energy Bill so I’m keen to support the progress made but also keep up the pressure to provide sustainable, clean but affordable energy for our nation’s citizens and businesses”.

The Climate Act

Jason McCartney said:

“In terms of Aviation and Shipping emissions we need to work for this on a global level”.

Summary

Therefore, Jason McCartney has not come out in support of either of the two policy asks.

If we’re being pessimistic, this may be because he plans to support the government position. If we’re being optimistic, it may be because he plans to see how the debate about the Energy Bill develops further.

When we contacted him about his initial response he reminded us that he had said, “I’m keen to support the progress made but also keep up the pressure to provide sustainable, clean but affordable energy for our nation’s citizens and businesses”.

Either way, Jason McCartney’s failure at this stage (and it’s now six weeks since the lobby) clearly and openly to join the existing cross-party push for the decarbonisation of electricity by 2030 is disappointing and raises questions – at least for the moment – about his understanding of, and commitment to climate change issues. He may provide answers to those questions in due course, but for the moment, they remain.

When we drew his attention to Tim Yeo’s plans to amend the legislation

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/18/coalition-backbench-rebellion-energy-bill.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/18/tim-yeo-energy-bill-speech),

Jason McCartney said, “I may well support Tim Yeo given the opportunity as the Energy Bill progresses but need to listen to the implications and costs for household bills.”

We encourage Jason McCartney’s constituents to keep reminding him of the need for a strong Energy Bill and we will be keeping them informed of his voting record.

In a sense, the issue of the Climate Act has been suspended given the government’s decision to delay a decision until 2016 when there is more clarity on ‘how aviation emissions will be tackled at an EU and global level’.

Whilst we would rather these emissions were embedded into the Climate Act now, this does mean these emissions will continue to be counted as part of the Climate Act’s targets for the next few years – and the Climate Change Committee have said this decision is sensible.

B) Fuel Poverty Campaigns

In November we also made contact with Jason McCartney to ask him to support the ‘Energy Bill Revolution’ campaign. (www.energybillrevolution.org).

This campaign is a coalition of many organisations to call on the government to use finance from its carbon taxes to fund a programme of improving the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock. This would reduce fuel poverty, reduce deaths from cold homes, reduce CO2 emissions and create 200,000 jobs. There is more information about the campaign here http://www.energybillrevolution.org/whats-the-campaign/ .

We asked Jason McCartney to support Early Day Motion 47 (which has been supported by 150 MPs) or (as he doesn’t believe in EDMs) to make a statement in support of the idea of using carbon taxes to reduce fuel poverty.

In reply, Jason McCartney said:

“I am deeply concerned about families and pensioners who live in fuel poverty and share your view that energy efficiency can make a real contribution to cutting the UK’s carbon emissions and helping consumers with their energy bills.

It is therefore extremely good news that that the Government has published the first comprehensive National Energy Efficiency Strategy this month. This Strategy sets out the additional steps the Government will be taking to stimulate the energy efficiency market, connecting finance with demand, encouraging innovation and making energy efficiency information more accessible to the consumer.

The new Green Deal – the Government’s flagship policy around energy efficiency – will revolutionise energy efficiency in the UK by offering households upfront finance to make energy efficiency improvements, paid for by energy bill savings. This scheme will provide extra financial help for the most vulnerable through an Energy Company Obligation (ECO), worth £1.3 billion, which will assist around 230,000 low income households a year.

Alongside this, the Government’s Warm Home Discount Scheme will provide over 2 million households, including over 600,000 vulnerable pensioners, with a £120 discount on their electricity bills. In addition, Ministers are maintaining the spending on Winter Fuel Payments, spending £2.1 billion this winter. Cold weather payments have been permanently increased from £8.50 to £25, helping the most vulnerable when extremely cold weather strikes.

Energy policies are already benefitting from direct funding from the Exchequer, including £860 million for the Renewable Heat Incentive to help those who are off the gas grid and £200 million in incentives for early take up of the Green Deal start up.”

Following discussion with Friends of the Earth and the Energy Bill Revolution teams we contacted Jason to let him know the flaws in the current provisions that he had outlined. The text below is an extract from our email to him:

 “The Green Deal won’t help the fuel-poor – it is a loan scheme designed to reduce the fuel you need to use (and so your fuel bills) and then use the savings to repay a loan. It is intended to get round the problem of the upfront costs of improving energy efficiency. However it doesn’t work in fuel-poor households.

The problem with people in fuel poverty is the amount of heat they put into their homes is limited by the money they have. So if you insulate a fuel-poor household, they may end up using exactly the same amount of fuel as they do now – the only difference is that the heat would be kept in the house and they would be warm and comfortable, instead of it leaking through roofs/walls/windows and them being cold (and possibly ill).

So if a household doesn’t make any savings, the loan repayments come on top of a fuel bill that has not reduced. As well as leaving the household worse off, this will be terrible publicity for the Government scheme and could stop it having an important role to play in other households who are not in fuel poverty and could cut their energy use.

The Warm Homes Discount and Cold Weather Payments subsidise energy bills – which is important when people are suffering because they cannot afford them, but it is not a long-term solution. You only need to insulate a house once – if you don’t, you have to subsidise fuel bills year after year. Also insulating a house creates work/helps the economy – subsidising a fuel bill doesn’t.

I would also like to draw your attention to three other important ways in which the Government’s current strategy for energy efficiency is inadequate:

First is work by ACE showing support to the fuel-poor is falling by 26% from 2009 to 2013. Even worse is the fact the biggest falls are in the housing improvement side of the policy – where cuts of 44% are seen. You can read more about this by looking at the Energy Bill Revolution press release (which includes a link to the actual briefing paper) http://www.energybillrevolution.org/media/government-slashes-support-for-fuel-poor/ .

Second is the Energy Bill Revolution’s macro-economic report which showed that investing in energy efficiency is the best way to stimulate GDP and job growth. The link for this one is here http://www.energybillrevolution.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/PR_Energy_Bill_Revolution_Economic_Impacts_nov2012.pdf .

Third the new carbon floor price and auctioning of carbon permits is going to end up on people’s bills from next year. I’d like to stress that these are not primarily responsible for price rises. This is, of course, fossil fuel price increases. However, given they will go on to bills, they ought to be used to help people pay them.”

Again, Jason McCartney has said he is very concerned about the issue but when asked to make clear commitments to specific measures in law to ameliorate the problem, he has failed to do so. Again, this is disappointing and raises questions about Jason McCartney’s understanding of, and commitment to climate change issues.

We CC’d Jason McCartney into this statement.

The KCCC team.

Footnote

Green is working lobby

1) The government’s own Committee on Climate Change says it needs to happen- as does Tim Yeo, chair of Commons Committee on Energy and CC and the CBI.

2) Nearly 30% of UK GHG emissions from the electricity. It’s also easier to decarbonise than other sectors.

3) Very unlikely that we could meet the 80% cut in CO2 by 2050 without decarbonising electricity by 2030

4) Under FoE projections – target could be achieved by renewables (on shore, off shore, gas CCS, wave, tidal, geothermal) and in the 2020s increased electricity storage, interconnectors and increasing the ability of electricity demand to reduce temporarily.

5) Talk about Bills going up as a result of Green investment that we have adding to bills so let’s look at that. With the deal the cap that Energy Suppliers can add to bill has gone from £2.35 bn now to £10 bn by the end of the decade and this will add between £100 and £170 to household bills.

Points to say about that

  1. Whatever we do we are about to enter an expensive phase of energy supply as we need to replace a lot of old infrastructure that is coming to the end of its life. 1/5 of generating capacity is due to close over the next decade. If we replace them with conventional power stations we will have ‘carbon lock in’
  2. Ed Davey estimates that the bill will be about £100 more by 2020 as a result of green investment but there will be £94 reduction in the average bill by 2020 due to impact of improved energy efficiency measures.
  3.  Green technology is expensive upfront but cheaper once it is running.
  4.  Gas is expensive. Between March 2011 and March 2012 the average gas bill rose by £100. The Committee on Climate Change stated that clean energy will add less to bills than gas because of rising gas prices and the cost of climate change.
  5. The lack of clear direction on the electricity sector is undermining investment. The CBI supports the decarbonisation target.
  6.  Decarbonising would have huge benefits to the UK economy. Last year 1/3 of UK economic growth came from green businesses. The renewable electricity industry already employs 110, 000 people with the potential to employ tens of thousands more people The UK is already a world leader in off-shore wind power. The more we invest, the more we will reap the rewards of the £3.3 trillion global market in low carbon goods and services. Green economy 8% of GDP
  7. Energy efficiency and demand reduction are cheapest, there will major falls in costs of renewables in 2020s. Gas will continue to rise (In 2011: 50% fall in costs for larger solar systems). Off shore wind predicted to fall below gas generation prices between 2020 and 2025
  8. If we do not decarbonise the electricity system by 2030 then we will have to make savings in other areas. These will cost more.
  9. The consequences of not dealing with climate change will be expensive economically as well as ecologically.Stern Report 5% of GDP –not paying for it.:Hurricane Sandy 40 US deaths, Economic losses as high as $50 billion, 8m homes without power, hundreds of thousands evacuated, 15, 000 flights grounded.
  10. Another way of dealing with carbon emissions and reducing people’s bills as well as improving health. 1:10 people in fuel poverty (10% of income) rising to 1:3 by 2016. UK has worst housing infrastructure in Europe. Leads to 7,800 deaths per year. The government could use income from carbon taxes (EETS and Carbon floor price) to improve housing stock. Over next 15 years government will raise 4billion in carbon taxes.  Could provide insulation which would take 9 out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty./ Create 200, 000 jobs. Could be targeted on 600, 000 most fuel poor households- grant of £6,500 each – save £310 on bills.

He calls projections suggesting that his proposals could increase bills by as much as £180 “nonsense figures”. “The impact on bills is that the costs will rise from today’s 2% figure on average bills, roughly £20, so that by the end of the decade it will gradually rise to 7% on average bills – just under £100. I have never hidden that this will have an impact. It’s what we have said will happen for many years.

“But equally, if you look at all our green policies, the help on fuel poverty and green efficiency, our estimate is that by 2020 the average bill will be 7% lower than it would have otherwise been – in today’s prices, £94. If we do the energy efficiency, this can be afforded.” Ed Davey

“If ministers choose to ignore the advice of their independent advisors [the CCC] and do not set a target to cut electricity sector emissions to 50g/KWh by 2030, then deeper – and more expensive – carbon cuts wills have to be found in other sectors, such as transport.” Tim Yeo

“An unambiguous objective to clean up the electricity sector by 2030 would give energy companies the confidence to invest and innovate, and should be one of the cornerstones of electricity market reform.” Tim Yeo

“If the energy bill does not set a target to largely decarbonise the electricity sector by 2030, then the UK may miss one of the biggest opportunities it has to create a low-carbon economy in the most cost effective way.”  Tim Yeo

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