Letter to Jason McCartney MP on Government climate policies

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Dear Jason McCartney,

Over the past year we have become increasingly concerned about the way in which this government has backtracked on climate policies. In the words of the New Scientist, “It’s been an annus horribilis for the UK’s environmental efforts. A whole series of green policies have been cut or cancelled, shaking investor confidence in renewable schemes and taking the UK further off course for meeting its climate goals.” [1] This has included:

 

Removing onshore wind subsidies          

Making renewables pay additional taxes    

Scrapping the Zero Carbon Homes target

New tax breaks for fossil fuels

Massive cuts to solar funding

Planning changes to block onshore wind

Scrapping the Green Deal for home insulation

Extravagant road-building plans

Proposed new runway opening up aviation expansion        

Removing tax incentives to buy less-polluting cars

More planning changes to fast-track fracking

 

These are summarised in the New Scientist article and by the Campaign Against Climate Change, whose ‘Going Backwards’ campaign[2] we support.

This backtracking has had two negative consequences. First, it has shaken the confidence of investors. In September 2015, the Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben, took the unusual step of writing to the Secretary of State, Amber Rudd, to tell her that the Government was creating confusion among potential investors in the low carbon economy. His words echoed those of John Cridland, Director General of the CBI who warned that the Government was sending “a worrying signal about the UK as a place for low-carbon investment”. [3] The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee produced a report in March 2016 which suggested that discouraging investors may add £120 a year to household bills. The report quotes, among others, a Siemens spokesperson who speaks of the “apparently contradictory messages” from ministers. The Chair of the Committee, Angus MacNeill, said, “Since coming to office in May, the Government has made a number of sudden and unexpected changes to policy. This has spooked investors and left them wondering ‘what will be next?’” [4]

The second negative consequence is that it has set the UK further off course in achieving its climate goals. Nations including the UK signed up at the Paris climate talks to aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. In March, we were alarmed to hear the announcement of record-breaking increases in warming in February and declarations of a ‘climate emergency’ by scientists[5]. Undermining renewable energy and energy efficiency, giving tax breaks for fossil fuels and encouraging carbon-intensive transport through road building and airport expansion is the exact opposite of the action that is required. As Lord Deben stated in September, the lack of long-term signals from government “could well lead to… a risk that targets to reduce emissions will be missed”.

Conservative politicians including Lord Deben, Zac Goldsmith and Tim Yeo have had an important leadership role in promoting the development of the green economy and discouraging fossil fuel dependence. So too, have the Conservative MPs who, like you, voted for virtually carbon-free electricity by 2030 in the Energy Bill,[6] those who, like you, voted for a moratorium on fracking in 2015[7] and the 15 MPs who wrote to the Chancellor, urging him to build on the ‘proven delivery record’ of renewable energy shortly before the 2016 Budget.[8]  We ask you to continue that role. Please could you tell us in writing by 17.5.16 if you agree that the Government’s policies in the past year have shaken investor confidence and taken the UK off course in meeting its climate goals?

Yours sincerely ,

14 Colne Valley constituents

 

[1]New Scientist 7/10/15 https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28299-14-ways-the-uk-has-backtracked-on-climate-pledges-this-year/

[2] http://www.campaigncc.org/goingbackwards

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/22/uk-risks-missing-its-carbon-targets-climate-advisers-warn

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/mar/03/energy-policy-u-turns-may-cost-households-120-a-year

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/mar/14/february-breaks-global-temperature-records-by-shocking-amount

[6] http://www.campaigncc.org/energybill#vote

[7] http://drillordrop.com/2015/12/17/how-mps-voted-in-yesterdays-fracking-vote/

[8] http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2451098/budget-2016-tory-mps-call-on-chancellor-to-build-on-renewables-proven-delivery-record

 

 

 

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