Letter to DECC

That’s the Department of Energy and Climate Change, for those not sure of their government department acronyms. Today’s energy policy announcements by the Secretary of State, Amber Rudd, have been well covered in the Guardian environment pages and elsewhere.

Apart from the commitment to phase out coal within a decade I found most of what she had to say pretty concerning. Since we live in a democratic society (stop sniggering at the back!) I fired off an email to let her know, and sent a copy to my MP Theresa May too. Any replies I get will, as usual, be posted here. Letter after the page break.

Dear Minister,

I write to welcome your announcement that the UK will cease to burn coal for electricity generation by 2025. However, I also want to take issue with the idea that ‘the balance has swung too far in favour of climate change policies at the expense of keeping energy affordable’ (as reported by the Guardian – if this statement is not representative of your views I’d be delighted if you can correct me).

This calculation is disputed by many (as you will know), since subsidies for the oil and gas industry cost the taxpayer many billions of pounds every year even if these are not, like green energy subsidy, directly added to energy bills. I would be interested to see comparative figures on support for fossil fuels vs. support for renewables, for I am certain that the former is already better supported by government subsidy. Again, please correct me if this is not the case.

But there is a more fundamental point to make here about joined-up thinking. Even if it were true that the cost of energy is being pushed up by climate change policies, it would make absolute sense to continue pursuing these policies because the economic, social and individual costs of climate change both worldwide and here in the UK will be immense. We are not talking about damage to economic growth here; for many people around the world, particularly in places that are already suffering, climate change will be a matter of life and death.

If you are worried about the costs to individual bill payers, why not rearrange support for the renewable industry by raising funds through progressively applied general taxation instead of green levies, ensuring that those who can afford to contribute to developing the UK renewable sector do but that poor families are still able to afford to heat their homes?

Unfortunately the only logic I see behind your policies is a drive to back big business interests – including large, foreign state owned companies – over and above small, British-owned businesses and community energy schemes. It’s a shame that the Conservative party in government is not backing up your rhetoric in support of localism, small business and enterprise with action, and that despite the strong commitments of the Prime Minister with regards to national security your government is content to cede control of a vital part of our energy supply to the Chinese government, which isn’t even democratically accountable to its own people. How is that not a threat to our national security?

It’s an even greater shame that independent report after independent report, as well as the government’s own figures, show Britain is on course to miss our legally binding renewables and carbon reduction targets, meaning that we are failing to do our part in fighting the most serious issue facing the world in the 21st century.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Foster

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