Energy Bill - replying to a Lib Dem MP

Lib Dem MPs have been replying to emails with a variety of excuses as to why they cannot support the target, so pick the rebuttal which matches up to your reply. Thanks to Greenpeace for putting together the answers below.

Your MP said: I am pleased with the Energy Bill as it currently stands, as it will make the UK less reliant on fossil fuels and will encourage a massive investment in renewables and other forms of low-carbon energy.

You say: Whilst the Energy Bill does indeed represent an opportunity to cut our reliance on fossil fuels and drive investment in renewables, clean energy investors and businesses say the Bill needs improvement before that’s certain to happen. It needs a 2030 clean energy target.

Earlier this year, Ernst & Young warned: “The main source of disappointment for investors was confirmation that a decarbonisation target will not be set until 2016. This delay cast doubts over the UK’s commitment to cut carbon emissions 50% by 2027 and left investors with a sense of uncertainty.”

Worse, some of the biggest manufacturing companies in the world – including big wind energy companies like Siemens – also warned on the front page of The Times recently that they could cancel billions of pounds worth of new wind turbine factories and green jobs in the UK unless the Energy Bill includes a clear goal to decarbonise electricity by 2030. They wrote, "A binding 2030 target for power sector decarbonisation would help to reduce the political risk currently associated with long-term UK industrial investment."

Your MP said: As a Liberal Democrat, I have always understood the potential benefits of having a decarbonisation target within the Energy Bill itself, as I recognise that the transition to a low-carbon economy is one of the most significant challenges facing the UK in the coming decades. Nevertheless, when governing as part of a coalition, it is often the case that certain compromises have to be made.

You say: Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey, in a speech to his own party said, “The Liberal Democrats are not for turning….. investors crave certainty. Stability. The confidence that Governments will stick to their word… That’s why there’s a strong case for a carbon limit for Britain’s energy grid for 2030. Energy is always a long term investment. So if we are to create greater investor confidence in Britain’s low carbon energy future, a long-term target is best.” Yet turning is precisely what he seems to be doing.

Lib Dem members voted to make it Lib Dem party policy.

It is true Conservatives in government are opposed to the target. But MPs from across the party political divide – led by the Conservative Tim Yeo - are putting partisan point scoring aside and backing a package of amendments that would see a target set now. If Lib Dems choose to back Tim Yeo’s green jobs amendments now, they can make their own party policy into law. It’s time for Lib Dems to stick to their green promises.

Your MP said: In order to guarantee that all of the other positive aspects of the Energy Bill could become law alongside the financial support for low carbon generation, it was necessary to forego the possibility of setting a decarbonisation target now. Significantly however, the Bill provides powers for a 2030 decarbonisation target to be set in 2016.

You say: The Bill currently says the government ‘may’ set a target in 2016. They don’t have to. Saying that a decarbonisation target may or may not be set some time after the next general election just isn’t good enough. Failing to prioritise decarbonisation with this Bill risks jeopardising green growth, and putting up both energy bills and carbon emissions. That’s because it could fire the starting gun on more imported and expensive gas, instead of more home grown renewables.

Your MP said: The power to set a target for 2030 in 2016 means that the target can be decided alongside the 5th Carbon Budget, at a time when the Government will be considering how to set the UK on course to sustainably meet its 2050 target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

You say: The Committee on Climate Change – who advise the government on what’s required to hit their legally binding carbon targets – have said there is no scenario in which we can stay within carbon budgets without decarbonisation of electricity by 2030, so this is simply a bad excuse. Additionally - as Ed Davey himself has acknowledged - companies considering their energy investments now need to know now what will be the direction of UK energy policy for years to come. They should not have to face years of more uncertainty.

Your MP said: The Coalition Government remains wholeheartedly committed to being the greenest government ever.

You say: It is impossible for this to be the greenest government ever if it deliberately rejects both the advice of its own advisers on climate change and the warnings of the clean energy companies who want to create green jobs in this country.

It surely isn’t unreasonable to ask a Lib Dem to vote for a popular Lib Dem policy - one that has the backing of scores of businesses, churches, civil society groups and energy experts?

Additional points you could 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.

 

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