Miliband outlines green future

In his keynote address at the Environment Agency's Environmental Futures 08 conference Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Government's newly-formed Climate Change and Energy department gave a taste of what's in store for the sector.

Below are a few of the titbits.

On the ‘carbon budgets’ which will set annual goals to help meet the longer-term targets of the Climate Change Bill

“I’m very clear that carbon budgets are an opportunity for us to ensure that we change the culture of government at every level so that every important decision must be considered in the context of carbon.

“We very much as a department intend to make that happen.”

On the UK’s future energy mix

“We need to use all the technology at our disposal, and that includes nuclear, renewables and carbon capture and storage.

“The generation of renewable energy is too important to simply be left to the energy companies.”

Feed in tariffs that guarantee individuals and localised energy producers a set rate for renewable energy production could encourage hospitals, schools and community groups to install their own generators, he said.

“10% of land in Britain is public sector land but only 1% of renewable energy is generated on [it],” he said.

“There are real opportunities to increase the amount of renewable energy we generate.

“I would urge public sector leaders to take up these opportunities and think about how generating renewable energy could be good for them in terms of securing an energy supply but also financially.

“We’ve made significant achievements as a government we’re now the biggest generator of offshore wind in the world.

“[But] we need to do more and I’m very conscious of that.”

He said the UK is pushing for more state funding to develop CCS across Europe.

“For an individual company the incentive to invest in what’s not fully-proven technology is insufficient,” said the Minister.

“That’s why our number one request that we’re arguing for in the EU package for climate change is for the EU to support CCS.”

On homes

“Energy efficiency is the most efficient way of beating our carbon targets. The ultimate vision is to have cavity wall insulation for all homes and loft insulation for all homes.”

He said extra funding for the Warm Front initiative would help move us towards this goal.

On transport

He said Government would do more to promote public transport and low-carbon vehicles and would not shy away from the prickly issue of aviation and shipping emissions.

“We do see aviation as of paramount importance going forward [and] we will take the issue of air quality seriously when we make decisions about a third runway at Heathrow.

“We made quite an important change at the end of the Climate Change Bill that aviation must be taken into account in all of the targets we set.

“People have rightly said that we can’t ignore aviation and shipping when thinking about climate change objectives.”

On the economic outlook

“My reading of the Stern report is very clear – the longer we wait the higher the costs of not acting on climate change. That’s why it’s right to take action now and make the recession shallower and more short-lived so it’s right to take action on climate change too.

“I’m very clear that we need to do a lot more than this in order to ensure a green recovery and we’ve got a lot further to go.

“There’s a big agenda here around greening the upturn. Peter Mandelson and I will be producing a green industrial strategy in the New Year on this agenda.”

He also said Government would actively promote green jobs: “It’s about government making the right investments in key areas and getting the markets to work in the ways they need to.”

On the relationship between environmental concerns and social justice

“We need an energy policy that doesn’t just guarantee security and affordability but also sustainability. But we need a climate change policy that’s fair to people.

“Why call for energy prices to be lower – that’s going to cause people to use more energy and that’s a bad thing. But we don’t want to make the poorest people to pay the most for their energy – that’s not a sustainable strategy.

“People using pre-paid meters being charged unfairly is wrong and should be sorted out.

“This issue of green and fair is a central concern of what is the right thing to do and taking people with us in relation to the journey on climate change.”

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