Who do you think you are kidding DECC and Defra?
Don't panic! DECC and Defra have everything under control. The two departments say they will "deliver an energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century", "champion the environment", "tackle air pollution" and "provide security against floods" in their new five-year plans.
But what they both failed to mention is that UK energy and environment policy is in crisis – as pretty much everyone in the energy industry and green economy now agrees. The Tory regime has torn apart a raft of green policies without any credible replacements to date, and we remain off-track to meet our fourth and fifth carbon budgets.
We’ve heard this week that the potential for gas in the UK energy mix is “very limited” without CCS – something DECC mentioned just once in its 5000-word grand plan, after the sudden scrapping of £1bn CCS funding. We’ve heard that there will be “future misery” for UK homeowners if the Government doesn’t reverse its decision to remove the zero-carbon homes requirement – something not mentioned in DECC’s plans at all.
We’ve heard that the UK “must try harder” to attract investment in renewables – following a series of punitive changes to various subsidy mechanisms. And we’ve heard fresh demands for an “urgent review” of the Levy Control Framework (LCF) – after DECC confirmed it had overspent the £7.6bn budget for the LCF by a projected £1.5bn.
To use another Dad’s Army reference of “we’re doomed!” to summarise the UK’s energy and climate policy would, at this stage, be a little unreasonable. Amber Rudd and her team do deserve credit for their efforts to seal the deal in Paris. But, as the UN’s soon-to-depart climate chief Christiana Figueres has previously stated, it’s a “crying shame” that the UK’s international ambition is seemingly failing to be reciprocated on the home front.
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