Political outlook on green issues is fractured, says Huhne
The political outlook on green issues for the UK is substantially more fractured now than it was in 2010, according to former energy secretary Chris Huhne.
Speaking at the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) conference in Birmingham on 2 July, Huhne said that none of the political parties are offering reassurance on tackling climate change as they were four years ago.
He said that in 2010 there was “a sort of uncanny consensus across all three main parties about the need to tackle climate change and ‘go green’.”
He added: “These days, a lot more politicians are trying to appeal to different audiences, including people worried about their household energy bills, and the effect of wind turbines on the landscape.”
He said that the Conservative Party is “split” on green issues and are looking at it from “three ways”. He said that they want to “sound like the energy consumer’s friend by backing gas fracking but they are also worried about nimby opposition to everything including fracking”.
He added: “As if to underline their confusion, they also want to impose a moratorium on the cheapest source of renewable energy – on-shore wind.”
However, he said for anaerobic digestion Conservative support is likely to continue to be strong because of the rural interest.
Huhne said that the Labour Party wanted to “sound different” from the Conservatives by pushing back on costs and promising an energy price freeze.
However, he said Labour has not explained how “that can be made consistent with renewable and energy saving subsidies largely paid through people’s bills”.
Huhne said that the Liberal Democrats were the most consistently reliable supporters of renewables “because green thinking is an important appeal for Lib Dem voters”. However, he acknowledged that “Lib Dems are clearly also weaker than they were in 2010” on green issues.
He added: “As for UKIP, they hate anything to do with the modern world, which as far as I can see includes all renewables.”
Elsewhere, he said the issue of Europe relying on Russian gas will make all political parties focus on energy security. He said renewable electricity generated from home-produced waste is a secure form of energy.
He added: “Don’t underestimate the power of the argument about energy security: it reaches into parts of the political spectrum resistant to environmental arguments.”
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