Business leaders are “more predisposed” than politicians to drive sustainable development for the foreseeable future, according to leading British environmentalist Jonathon Porritt. The business case for sustainability will grow from strength-to-strength as organisations increasingly realise there is “no downside” to mainstreaming energy efficiency within a company’s operations. Porritt remains confident that Britain’s low-carbon agenda is now in safe hands. Having developed a working relationship with the new Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary Greg Clark during his time as chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, Porritt suggests that Clark is a “serious player” when it comes to understanding the significance of the green economy. Much like Aldersgate Group’s chief executive Nick Molho, Porritt is also excited about the prospect of a low-carbon industrial strategy being formulated within the boundaries of the new business-focussed department. As we know, DECC was only able to achieve the limited amount that it did because it of course was basically run by the Treasury. If we have the same balance of power where the Treasury continues to call all the big shots like infrastructure, industrial priorities and other things like Hinkley Point and so on, then we won’t really see the kind of progress we really need.”
Edie 26th Aug 2016 read more »
The prospect of a ‘golden age’ of cheap and green energy is being put at risk by constant Government tinkering that is driving away investors, the industry has warned. Lawrence Slade, the chief executive of Energy UK, highlighted 10 different changes over the past year or so that he said were undermining confidence in the sector. He urged the new Business Secretary, Greg Clark, to put an end to the repeated and sometimes sudden alterations and develop a long-term plan that would let investors know what kind of return they could expect on their money. Failure to do that would see them go elsewhere and that could lead to higher prices for consumers and hamper Britain’s ability to meet targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energy UK, which represents Britain’s largest energy companies, provided a list of recent changes made by the Government. These included: changes to planning law to allow new windfarms to be blocked; the cancellation of a £1bn competition to design an effective carbon-capture-and-storage system; the phasing out of “unabated coal” by 2025; and the removal of the exemption from the climate change levy for renewable generators. The postponement of the second round of allocations of new energy contracts; Renewables Obligation support for photovoltaic solar panels and onshore wind closed early; cuts affecting most technologies under the feed-in tarrif; the ongoing review of the embedded charging benefits; and a cut affecting biomass conversion projects were also highlighted by the industry body. Professor Catherine Mitchell, an expert on energy policy at Exeter University, said a common complaint by large energy companies was that there had been too many policy changes but “that is often because they do not want the new policies”. “Nobody likes to have chopping and changing of policies but if you have a bad policy in place, people actually prefer you to put in place a sensible policy,” she said. However the Government’s recent steps, she said, were “an example of sensible policies which were chopped and that will affect investor confidence and could mean higher prices and more emissions”. “They have made lots of changes and there are also things they have put in place, like the Green Deal to do with energy efficiency, which did not work and which absolutely everyone told them wouldn’t work and lost us millions of pounds,” Professor Mitchell added.
Independent 30th Aug 2016 read more »