The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has come out as condemning the government’s apparent indifference towards climate change that they claim is shown by their cutting of renewable energy subsidies.
Despite the government’s insistence on their commitment to fighting climate change, the green energy sector has seen dramatic cuts this summer after its £7.6 billion was exceeded. The chancellor also announced, in his 2015 budget, that renewable energy farms (like solar, wind and biogas plants) will no longer be exempt from Climate Change Levy. This leaves us in the somewhat counterintuitive position where plants producing renewable energy and no carbon, are going to be facing a carbon tax to the tune of some £3.9 billion.
A Treasury spokeswoman has defended the government’s moves, claiming that “our support has already driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly” and that the various forms of financial support that renewable energy generators receive would outweigh any losses incurred due to cuts.
“Sending the wrong message”
John Cridland, the head of the CBI, is claiming that this is sending the wrong message, to businesses and the general public alike. He has pressed the government to make good on their promise to implement replacement policies regarding renewable energy – promoting it rather than cutting subsidies.
“The green economy is an emerging market in its own right, brimming with opportunity” he said, adding that “with the roll-back of renewables policies and the mixed messages on energy efficiency, the government risks sending a worrying signal to businesses.”
He referenced the upcoming conference in Paris in November, saying that “we need all countries to pull in the same direction at the Paris Climate Summit to give firms the certainty and confidence they need to invest in the green economy for the long run.”
“The test is coming”
His sentiments were shared by Lord Stern, former chief economist at the Treasury, who said that “the test is coming. In the coming few months, will policies be put in place that take account of the great cost of emissions and air pollution?”
“If there are not policies” he warned, gravely, “that would be deeply worrying.”
Stern has long been an advocate for taking action about climate change, warning as far back as 2006 that cutting emissions early was of paramount importance, lest we be left having to deal with the problems in the future once they’ve got much worse. He maintains that the case to be made for cutting emissions and pushing forward low-carbon development is “inarguable”.