The Tory Lib Dem Government mustn’t be allowed to break their green promises, says Richard Costello

He sounded green. He seemed concerned.  He even made a pilgrimage to the North Pole.  So there is no way we should allow Cameron to get away with dropping sustainability pledges next week.  The new shadow BIS team should move quickly to slam the Tory Lib Dem Government’s sham green credentials and prove that Labour is more serious about sustainability than Cameron has ever been.

Industry, NGOs and trade unions are all concerned that the comprehensive spending review will include cuts to feed-in tariffs, a move that could scare off investors from UK renewable energy initiatives including solar power.  Green investment, green business and green jobs, which the UK desperately needs, could all move overseas.

Feed–in tariffs guarantee small scale producers of renewable and low carbon electricity a long term and fixed price for their energy that is above market levels. The introduction of feed-in tariffs back in April led to a significant increase in the installation of solar panels and other domestic renewables.  Under the original plans, feed-in tariffs were to be set firm for a few years before being reviewed.  This timescale was set out to ensure companies and home owners had a clear incentive to invest in solar panels and other renewable energy kit.

But now over 60 organisations working in the renewables sector have signed a letter, to Vince Cable, Chris Huhne and Danny Alexander outlining their fears about the Tories and Lib Dems’ lack of commitment to the feed-in tariff regime.  In the letter the signatories said:

“There has been recent press speculation that the Government may be considering the quite unprecedented step of prematurely cutting the feed-in tariff payments prior to next year’s planned review of these tariffs, the outcome of which would be due to take effect in April 2013. Such premature adjustments to the tariff would have a profoundly damaging effect on long term investor confidence in the clean tech and renewable energy sectors, and may cause investors to flee altogether, thereby stifling any future investment and seriously jeopardizing this country’s ability to meet its climate change and renewable energy targets.

It would immediately destroy the value of recent investments in any company, technology or initiative built on the back of the feed-in-tariff policy, and it would have damaging knock-on consequences for investment appetites against both current and future policies in the climate change / renewable energy sectors, and possibly in many unrelated sectors as well.”

The TUC, friends of the earth and the aldersgate group have also teamed up and written to Osborne to express their concerns that cuts to green funding could damage the UK economy. They say that cuts to the feed-in tariff could stop companies investing in solar, allowing the UK’s competitors to race ahead and dominate the emerging world market taking green jobs away from the UK.

The uncertainty and speculation about this policy issue has gone on for far too long. The Government not having publicly made their position clear makes the UK seem like it isn’t a serious player in the growing international renewables sector.  At the same time, it makes the Tories and Lib Dems look weak on environmental policy.

They are clearly as committed to reducing carbon emissions as they are to reducing their fat cat cronies’ pay and perks. When it comes to climate change, there can’t be compromise. U-turns on sustainability can’t be tolerated. Cameron certainly does seem ‘for turning’ when it comes to environmental policy and he is driving this whole country round the bend.

It is time to shine a light on this situation and the damage it could do to solar power and the rest of the renewables sector. It is time for Dave Cameron, Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne to be forced to show their hand and own up to whether they are actually committed to tackling climate change. It is time for the new shadow BIS team to step up and slam Tory Lib Dem bungling and greenwash.

Making this move now will help the shadow BIS team to really make their mark on the electorate.  Green-leaning voters, who were convinced by Cameron and Clegg, will see that Labour is the party that is really serious about low-carbon initiatives, investment and green jobs.

Richard Costello is a member of Labour’s National Policy Forum. He writes in a personal capacity.

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One Response to “The Tory Lib Dem Government mustn’t be allowed to break their green promises, says Richard Costello”

  1. Cromwellian says:

    On the subject of renewable energy, Britain should be on a war footing for renewable energy, not only because of green house emissions, but because of our national dependancy on fossil fuels, as a nation we cannot and must not be held to ransom over future transfers of energy travelling across europe or by sea from unstable regimes, I am from Northants British National Party, and i realise our aims and ambitions vary greatly. i just stumbled on your site by chance looking up my name Richard Costello, I am not the same as your previous blogger, and am quite happy for open debate, thus using my cromwellian account, I am more conservative than labour thinking in general but am happy for discussion. i dont do name calling ranting or any other non constructive things like this. “Richard Costello is a member of Labour’s National Policy Forum” I am not, but on the same understanding everyone has rights, ours here in the uk were hard fought for, and i never forget that especially with November the 11th coming up

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