Energy Bill - replying to a Conservative MP

Many Conservative MPs have been sending the same stock response to emails. It tries to claim that the government has already done what we are asking for and committed to setting a target to clean up power. This is misleading, to put it politely! (Here is a document from Friends of the Earth which debunks their claims, and includes a template response, also available below).

If you want to write a response in your own words (always better) here are some points you might also want to make:

Policies which keep us on  a path of ever-increasing CO2 and temperature rises are not an option.

  • Rising global temperatures have caused Arctic sea ice volume to shrink in summer 2012 shrunk to just a fifth of its summer minimum in 1979, a visible sign of how we are destabilising the planet.
  • For the first time in 3-4 million years, levels of atmospheric CO2 have surpassed 400 parts per million (compared to pre-industrial levels of somewhere around 280ppm), and they are continuing to rise rapidly. The last time CO2 levels were this high, in the Pliocene, global temperatures were 3-4C higher than today, sea levels 5-40m higher.

The target for 2030 electricity decarbonisation is in the UK's economic interest

  • The Committee on Climate Change's most recent report urges the government yet again to include within the Energy Bill a target to reduce 2030 carbon intensity to 50 gCO2/kWh
  • They point out that the UK will gain economic and employment benefits from the move to a low-carbon economy - but only if investment is not undermined by uncertainty, as is the case currently.
  • They predict that investment in low-carbon technology as opposed to gas power would result in cost savings of £25-45 billion, even with low gas prices. If gas prices rise as more frequently predicted, this could rise to a saving of over £100 billion from investing in renewables.

Standard letter from Conservative MPs to their constituents:

Thank you for contacting me about the Energy Bill.

First, let me assure you that the Government is committed to setting a decarbonisation target. The Government recently laid amendments to the Energy Bill to enable a legally binding decarbonisation target for the electricity sector to be set in 2016. This will help decarbonise the UK’s energy supplies and put us on the road to a low-carbon future. The UK’s tough emissions and renewable targets provide a solid overall policy framework, and the Government is pushing through ambitious reforms to overhaul existing old fossil fuel plants and replace them with new low carbon generation.

The Energy Bill will put a fair price on carbon, providing a stronger incentive to invest in low carbon generation now. As part of this Bill, powers to set a decarbonisation target range for 2030 will be brought forward in secondary legislation. It has been decided to set the target in 2016, once the Climate Change Committee has provided advice; in line with the fifth Carbon Budget which covers the corresponding period. It is right to fix the target in terms of the prevailing circumstances at the time and in the context of the economy as a whole to which decarbonisation of the sector is inextricably linked.

The Government has no doubt that the UK will retain its status as a great place to do low-carbon business. The Energy Bill will attract £110 billion of investment to bring about a once in a generation transformation of the UK’s electricity mix, moving from a predominantly fossil-fuel to a diverse low-carbon generation mix. In addition, the Government has established Europe's first Green Investment Bank, which will lever over £15 billion of investment in to green projects and technologies by 2014-15.

The Government’s Green Deal will enable every British home and business to install packages of energy-saving technologies worth up to £10,000, at no upfront cost, with repayments made out of the energy savings. This will revolutionise the energy efficiency of British homes and could support 65,000 jobs in the insulation industry by 2020.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

 

Template response to Conservative MPs

Dear Conservative MP,

Thank you for your letter. I am glad to read that the government is committed to setting a decarbonisation target.  However, nothing in the current legislation commits the government to setting one either now or in the future. The Government’s amendments only take the power to set a target, but do not say that they will.  Even if a target was set, it would not have to be set in 2016 - this is just the earliest year a target could be set under the government’s proposals. Additionally, the target could be set at any level and would not have to be consistent with meeting our Climate Change Act goals.

This is the main reason that many renewable energy companies and investors have said they need more certainty if they are going to invest in the new green jobs that Britain desperately needs.  Major manufacturers such as Siemens, Vestas and Dong recently wrote an open letter to the government calling for this target which was published in the Times newspaper saying:

"Postponing the 2030 target decision until 2016 creates entirely avoidable political risk. This will slow growth in the low carbon sector, handicap the UK supply chain, reduce UK R&D and produce fewer new jobs"

There is also much broader commercial support, for example a letter written to the Chancellor in October 2012 supporting a target on the face of the Bill was signed by 50 companies, including ASDA, Alliance Boots, Aviva Investors, M&S, Microsoft, Pepsico, Philips and Sky.

The Committee on Climate Change has given clear advice that a decarbonisation target for the power sector of 50g of carbon per kWh by 2030 should be set now. They wrote to the government asking them to introduce a target into the Energy Bill in February (here) and reiterated this in their most recent report. They have recommended this as part of their duty to advise on the most cost-effective way to meet Britain’s legally binding commitment to cut our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

Given the above, please could you add your name to, and vote for, the amendments tabled by Tim Yeo MP and Barry Gardiner MP to introduce a decarbonisation target by 2014 in line with the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. These are amendments numbers 11 – 19. This would ensure our commitment to decarbonising the power sector by 2030 is enshrined in the Energy Bill.

Yours sincerely

Name
Address

 

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Write a letter to your local paper, or even better, try to get a story in - they can be a useful source of publicity.