Greenest Government Ever??
Yesterday we reported that Renewable UK, the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries, claimed that Government cuts to the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) for new wind projects will cut new wind projects by 1.2 GW. Enough electricity to supply close to a million homes with renewable power.
Their “State of Industry Report – Onshore and offshore review” also highlights a dramatic fall in successful planning applications for on and offshore wind. Consented capacity over the last year in England fell by almost 60%. It marks the lowest level of consented capacity since 2006/7. This means an average approval rate of just 26% by capacity.
Maria McCaffery MBE, RenewableUK Chief Executive, said:
"The overall level of deployment is encouraging, but that is being driven by the historic backlog of projects finally coming through the system. The number of planning refusals of new projects by local authorities is alarming, with the lack of new offshore approval & the Dudgeon onshore substation refusal setting a worrying precedent".
Is this part of an alarming pattern? Business Green reports that the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee will call on the Prime Minister to attend next years Rio +20 conference, marking the 20th anniversary of the original Rio conference that helped push environmental issues into the mainstream.
Joan Walley, chairwoman of the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, said:
"The Prime Minister should lead by example. He could make a big difference by demonstrating his commitment to Rio +20 and letting other world leaders know that he will personally be attending."
David Cameron has already said he will not be attending next years Rio +20 Earth Summit – because of the Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Progress on climate change targets stalled at the 2009 Copenhagen Summit and there are fears that Rio may be avoided by leaders avoiding association with an event that may fail. He's also not attending the UN Climate Change summit in Durban next month at a time when there's an urgent need to reinvigorate negotiations.
The Independent focusses on George Osborne, who threatened to back off from carbon reduction pledges at the Tory Party conference earlier this month. In a review of broken pledges and “anti-environmental” legislation. “Osborne's anti-green agenda splits Coalition”, highlights ten policies including changes to planning law that remove protection of the open countryside, failure to fund the government’s Green Investment Bank, watering down of standards for eco-housing and raising the speed limit to 80mph.
Osborne, described as “the leader of an increasingly influential faction within the Cabinet willing to sacrifice green policies if doing so is deemed helpful to economic growth voice” by the Independentis the son in law of climate sceptic Lord (David) Howell. The recent resignation of Liam Fox has exposed Tory ties to the strongly climate sceptic US neo-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) via Fox's Atlantic Bridge Charity. Osborne was a trustee of the charity with fellow cabinet ministers William Hague and Micheal Gove. ALEC is funded in part by the Koch brother's oil billions and has attracted permanent scrutiny from “ALEC exposed”
A Prime Minister failing to take a lead in crucial climate change talks, widespread industry fears for renewables in the wake of cuts to feed-in tariffs and a Chancellor with eco-sceptic connections are worrying trends. Green jobs and green industries are a strong area of growth and investment while investment in green infrastructure would provide jobs and help insulate the economy from the crippling costs of oil and gas.
Update - The Independent today (28/10/2011) reports that the Government will use tax payers money to fund the expansion of Siberian coal mines - breaking pledges to not support "dirty fuel energy production". Coal fired electricity produces almost double the carbon emissions of natural gas - adding weight to the case that the government is green in name only.