Industry reaction: What do green groups want from Liz Truss as Prime Minister?
Liz Truss has been named as the UK’s next Prime Minister and faces a massive to-do list in order to respond to the energy crisis, but how do green groups think the incoming Conservative leader should deal with rising energy prices?
It looks set to be a frantic few weeks for Liz Truss. She is set to be formally unveiled as the next Prime Minister on Tuesday (6 September) and will then set about creating a cabinet to deliver on her visions.
Truss has pledged to “deal” with the energy crisis, with some reports stating that a plan – featuring a price freeze – could be introduced as early as this week.
How the energy crisis is dealt with though, remains to be seen. Here, edie rounds up the key messages to new Prime Minister from green groups.
The energy crisis
Unsurprisingly, many green groups are calling on Truss to outline measures to champion energy security through renewable and low-carbon solutions.
RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail said:
“Firstly, it’s vital that she should re-commit to the ambitious targets set out in the Government’s Energy Security Strategy, which will move us further and faster towards energy independence. That means more than quadrupling our offshore wind capacity to 50GW by 2030 – including 5GW of innovative floating wind. We need to remove the barriers in the planning system which are unnecessarily delaying offshore wind development, and upgrade our grid so that we can connect new offshore projects more quickly.
“Now is the time to end the block on onshore wind development in England and set a new target for the sector. We know onshore wind projects can be up and running within a year of approval, providing the country with much needed low-cost clean energy, so we’re urging Liz Truss to pull out all the stops to encourage new projects to go ahead in areas where they have local support.
“Industry wants to work with Government on our plans to break the link between the exorbitant cost of gas and the price of electricity. Green hydrogen generated by electricity from wind is set to be a key technology in our future energy mix, as it can be stored to give us flexibility to use it whenever we like.”
Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said:
“We have been clear for some time – there needs to be substantive upfront support for households and businesses for the bills they will be required to pay, to help them get through an incredibly challenging winter. However, the root cause of the problem – the reliance on price volatile fossil fuels, particularly gas – needs to be tackled in parallel. That means accelerating the deployment of renewable energy; making homes and buildings more energy efficient; and providing real proactivity and focus to deliver well designed market reforms to protect consumers from the prices being seen in international fossil fuel markets.
“As we have warned throughout the leadership contest, knee jerk and ill-thought out cuts to renewable energy investment schemes will simply store up problems for the future, and save relatively little in the short-term. To deliver an energy future that is independent, secure and stable, we need to accelerate renewable energy deployment. That is how we solve this crisis.”
While others believe that low-carbon technologies should be prioritised alongside a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.
Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, said:
“As our new prime minister, Liz Truss will have to get in step with the majority of people who are dreading a devastating winter of soaring fuel and food bills, amid a spiralling cost of living crisis.
“This means putting people and the planet first by strengthening the windfall tax on the excess profits of oil and gas giants to fund a package of emergency support and energy efficiency measures.
“It’s saying no to lifting the ban on fracking, no to new coal and no to exploiting more North Sea oil and gas. These out of touch, short-sighted proposals will do little to tackle the energy crisis and will only lock us into expensive and polluting fossil fuels for decades to come.
“Truss has the solutions to address both the energy and climate crises at her fingertips. Her first actions must be immediate targeted support and investing in a nationwide, street-by-street home insulation programme, which could save millions of people £1,000 or more on their energy bills”
OEUK’s Acting CEO, Mike Tholen, said:
“We welcome Liz Truss to her new role and wish her all the very best in challenging times. A big prime ministerial inbox awaits, on top of which sits UK energy security and its critical place in countering the threat from Putin’s weaponisation of energy. As the new PM has said, we need to find a two-pronged solution both in the short- and long-term to the energy crisis.
“OEUK and our members remain steadfast partners for government and we work with political parties of all colours to ensure we carefully nurture and invest in our homegrown oil and gas industry and boost its enablement of our transition to a renewable future. We look forward to meeting with the new PM and her top team shortly and ensuring our members are front and centre of the conversations and the solutions.”
Mike Thornton, chief executive of Energy Saving Trust said:
“Liz Truss takes the helm as Prime Minister during the worst energy crisis in a generation. She must urgently prioritise addressing energy security and affordability, whilst continuing to reduce carbon emissions to maintain a liveable environment for the future.
“With October’s energy price rises set to overtake existing support, we must see emergency measures that provide adequate assistance for those who cannot afford to pay their bills. We are also calling for an Energy Demand Strategy to enable households reduce their energy use through retrofit schemes. This could permanently reduce the energy bills of the UK’s most inefficient homes by an average of £1,000 a year and should also be supported by a national, impartial and tailored advice service which breaks down barriers to action.”
Nature and climate
Some believe that now is the perfect time to not only tackle the energy crisis but use it as a doorway to address the wider climate and nature crises.
Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said:
“The new Prime Minister’s first priority upon entering office will be to tackle the energy security and cost of living crises. In addition to an emergency package to offer immediate support to consumers, the best way to do this is to rapidly lower the UK’s dependence on volatile fossil fuels.
“This requires accelerating the roll out of low cost renewable technologies such as offshore wind, investing in the UK’s power grid infrastructure and overseeing a much-needed mass insulation programme to upgrade UK’s leaky housing stock. This needs to happen hand in hand with electricity market reform to decouple gas and electricity prices and ensure that the falling costs of renewable generation are reflected in lower bills.”
“At a time where the UK is having to adjust to increasingly frequent extreme weather events as evidenced by the drought over the summer, it is essential that the new PM continues to progress efforts to restore nature and make our environment more resilient to climate impacts. This will require the rapid finalisation of ambitious targets under the Environment Act and putting in place a new ambitious Environment Improvement Plan by the start of 2023.”
Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF, said:
“As Liz Truss steps into office after a summer of fires in the Amazon, catastrophic floods in Pakistan and dangerously soaring temperatures in the UK, the climate and nature crisis must not be reshuffled off to the sidelines.
“The government she now leads was elected with a promise to reach net zero and a claim of the greenest manifesto ever. But it is not on track to deliver, and we are running out of time. Urgent action now will improve energy security, help tackle the cost of living crisis, and create green jobs and investment across the country. We need firm commitment from Liz Truss that she will help bring our world back to life so that people, nature and the economy can thrive.”
Green spending, buildings and resources
Others are calling for clarity as to how businesses can and should be operating during the cost of living crisis.
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“I’d like to congratulate Liz Truss on becoming leader of the Conservative Party. She will need to demonstrate strong leadership as the cost-of-living crisis deepens. Retailers continue to play their part, keeping prices as low as possible and helping households by offering discounts to vulnerable groups, expanding value ranges, raising staff pay, and offering reduced-cost or free children’s meals. The retail industry is ready to work with the new government to shore up consumer confidence and help deliver economic growth.
“Businesses need clarity on the government’s intentions as soon as possible so they can understand the inflationary impact of any policy decisions. One immediate way the Government can help retailers support their customers is to freeze the business rates multiplier for all retail businesses for the next financial year, protecting the industry from rates increases linked to inflation, and giving greater scope to hold down prices, protect jobs, and support the economy.”
Some organisations are also calling for a detailed investment plan that provides confidence in the UK’s net-zero efforts and encourages the private sector to focus on low-carbon spending.
Mark Gibson, Business Development Director, RSK Group, added:
“The UK needs a detailed net zero investment plan, providing clear focus on where financing is needed, how much, when and what it will achieve.
“Realising objectives in the UK’s 25 Year Environment Plan, National Adaptation Programme, Net Zero Strategy and Energy Security Strategy requires considerable amounts of financing to be mobilised. Estimates for the Net Zero Strategy, for instance, indicate that annual investment needs to increase from current levels in the order of £10–15 billion to a minimum £50–60 billion to 2030.
“Currently in the UK, private sector investment for the protection and restoration of nature is a long way short of where it needs to be – targets of a minimum annual £500 million of private finance by 2027 and greater than £1 billion a year by 2030 have been set by the government. How can the government facilitate those investments? Part of the answer lies in producing a detailed investment plan: one that shows targets by sector and their capital requirements, the incentives available and policy levers that can be used to mobilise investment.”
Others feel that areas like resources and the built environment need more attention.
Lee Marshall – Policy and External Affairs Director, CIWM, said:
“CIWM would like to congratulate Liz Truss on her appointment as Prime Minister. We would hope that the PM’s time as a former Secretary of State for the Environment means that she will continue to prioritise the environment and support the recycling and resource management sector in its efforts to help the UK reach its Net Zero and circular economy goals.
“There are several initiatives that require the PM’s immediate attention to ensure valuable time and momentum is not lost. These include the Government’s plans for the ambitious waste collection and packaging reforms agenda.”
Gillian Charlesworth, CEO, Building Research Establishment (BRE) said:
“The new UK Government must ramp up its action on climate change – and central to this should be driving a green transition in the built environment. We were pleased to see the newly appointed Prime Minister, Liz Truss, pledging to help people insulate their homes as the UK heads towards net zero. However, we will need to go much further if we are to fully decarbonise the UK’s building stock, which currently makes up a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“What’s more, improving the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings is one of the only viable ways to lower energy bills, which are now at record highs and set to rise even further in October. With macroeconomic pressures worsening, rolling out measures to improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock will be paramount in relieving households of the financial pressures they are currently facing. It is crucial that any plans to scrap green levies do not impact energy efficiency schemes, which are critical in delivering improvements to our housing stock.”
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