Household energy bills will be about £600 higher per year in the coming decades if the UK relies increasingly on gas, according to the Committee on Climate Change.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, told the Guardian: "The implication of the committee's report is absolutely clear: investment in a portfolio of low carbon technologies provides a vital hedge against the prospect of high gas prices in the future. By contrast, the option for a large-scale shift towards unabated gas-generation in the government's recent gas strategy poses a massive risk to the UK's future growth.
Businesses have repeatedly warned about the economic cost of locking the UK into high imported fossil fuel dependency: rising and volatile energy prices, serious concerns about security of supply, and a missed opportunity to build up UK supply chains."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director from the Aldersgate Group, told Parliament Magazine's Brussels Briefing Live conference that the UK's 2020 renewable energy target is challenging but achievable.
He said: "analysis by the AEA consultancy and the Government's independent advisors demonstrate that the UK's target of generating 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 is achievable. However, there is little room for complacency. Policy uncertainty and mixed messages from Government means that the UK is not keeping up with faster growing international markets in the race for global investment."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, told the Guardian: “If the Chancellor’s Autumn statement is intended to heal the UK economy, the gas strategy is a route that will lead us straight back to economic decline". David Kennedy, the Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, stated that the scenario for building 40 new gas plants was "completely incompatible" with climate change targets.
According to Mr Raingold, such a strategy “undermines investment and jobs, and will raise the capital cost of renewing our energy infrastructure: a cost that will be passed straight onto the bills of businesses and consumers. Businesses have repeatedly warned the Chancellor about the economic cost of locking the UK into high imported fossil fuel dependency: rising and volatile energy prices, serious concerns about security of supply, and a missed opportunity to build up UK supply chains. Already households are paying £70 per year directly to Qatar for imported gas – money we could be keeping in the UK economy by investing in renewables on our soil."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, told Newsnight Scotland that a new report by Cambridge Econometrics finds that investing in offshore wind through the 2020s would benefit the economy by adding £20bn to GDP by 2030, boosting total UK jobs by 70,000 and reducing the gas import bill by £8bn (45%).
Commenting on the publication of the report, he said: "The economic value of investment in offshore wind will be hugely increased if a world leading supply chain develops in the UK. It is a matter of urgency that the Government’s industrial strategy prioritises the development of wind power manufacturing capacity."
The Independent has reported that "alarming" new research shows that investment in essential industrial-scale wind, water, solar, biomass and nuclear power projects has more than halved in the past three years, in the face of government indecision over its green energy policy.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, told the paper that: “Delaying key decisions such as the decarbonisation target for 2030 risks damaging the UK’s future economic prospects and leaving the consumers over-exposed to the price and energy security risks of heavy dependence on imported gas.”
Responding to the report by the Environmental Audit Committee to "restore confidence in energy policy", Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: "Ministers need to sit up and pay attention to the long and growing line-up of supporters for a 2030 power sector carbon target. The Environmental Audit Committee has today added its voice to businesses, industry bodies, energy utilities, NGOs and MPs across the country that have repeatedly made the economic case for such a target this autumn."
"If the Autumn Statement is going to kick start growth and jobs, it must provide the certainty on our energy future that businesses have been demanding. The policy grid lock is already damaging low carbon investment and capital allocation."
In a new report into the Autumn Statement, the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee finds that Treasury led ‘dash for gas’ could make the UK’s carbon targets under the Climate Change Act unachievable. The Committee is calling on the Government to restore investor confidence in the future direction of energy policy by setting a clear decarbonisation objective in the forthcoming Energy Bill.
The Committee's report can be downloaded from here.
Responding to the Government announcement that every new regulation that imposes a new financial burden on firms must be offset by reductions in red tape that will save double those costs, Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, has argued that such arbitrary targets can lead to perverse outcomes for business.
He said: "There is no analysis of the quality of regulation or the need for Impact Assessments to better take into account the full externalities on the environment or society. As a result this quest for monetary savings risks losing the purpose of best value regulation to correct market failures and provide fair competition."
In response to a letter by 20 Conservative MPs to David Cameron expressing their concern on the green economy, Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said that more needs to be done to trumpet its growth potential.
He told the Guardian: "While the green economy has been a key pillar for growth in the UK's recovery from the global economic crash, policy uncertainty and mixed messages from ministers are undermining this success story. The environmental sector is an area where the UK has strong foundations on which to build and can be one of the building blocks of a genuine export-led recovery in advanced manufacturing and know-how. With competitor economies rapidly building up their capabilities to take advantage of a lucrative global market, it will take strong and consistent UK government leadership to turn its green economy vision into reality."
The Ecosystem Markets Task Force, which brings together industry leaders and experts from a wide range of business sectors, has published its Interim Report, detailing its emerging thinking on why nature should matter to business and the potential opportunities for business from valuing nature correctly.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and a member of the Task Force, said: "The Task Force is doing ground breaking work underpinned by some excellent research. This Interim Report sheds a light on why our failure to value the natural environment is impoverishing business, the environment and society as a whole.
"I hope that Government will respond to this business-led initiative to give the structures and certainties for new markets to be developed, to build a leadership position for the UK. Making nature an integral part of business thinking is the only way to go."
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, told Channel 4 News that Britain's economic growth will be further damaged by fresh confusion over windfarms and renewable energy.
He said: "The coalition's continued in-fighting about renewable energy is damaging growth. Business - the engine of growth - has been vocal about the competitive and economic advantage of a low carbon electricity supply in the UK."
"Renewable energy sources are a prudent investment: allowing the nation to hedge against future fossil fuel price volatility and benefit from greater long term cost certainty. These are at the heart of creating a positive environment for business."
For a link to the article, click here.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, has told MPs that the Government's dash for infrastructure must include a more strategic review of long-term economic challenges, such as resource scarcity, to boost resilience and competitive advantage.
In reference to Treasury's National Loan Guarantee Scheme, he told the Environmental Audit Committee in a witness session for their inquiry into the Autumn Statement that "not one of the five criteria against which these projects are judged includes sustainability". This would risk locking into high carbon infrastructure that could lead to significant additional costs further down the line.
Speaking at the TUC Conference "Green is Good for Growth" with a keynote speech from Vince Cable, Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, argued that the Government's plans for an industrial strategy should be enhanced.
He stated that: "Vince Cable said the new industrial strategies must deliver 'an enduring commitment far beyond a 5 year Parliament or spending review’ but the mechanisms to make that long term aspiration stick are still lacking. The GIB, and publishing future procurement pipelines, help but more certainty for business investment is needed.
Whilst the green economy is growing and providing much needed trade surpluses, the question is whether this is because of, or in spite of, current government policies? From an international perspective the UK has earnt a strong reputation for enabling policies such as the Climate Change Act. But now we are being called to deliver on action; our performance is equivocal and lowering our attractiveness to international investors."
The Aldersgate Group has published its consultation response to the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs' inquiry into the guidance for companies listed on the London Stock Exchange to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This announcement was strongly welcomed by the business community and must pave the way to extend the requirements to all large companies in due course.
The document sets out critical next steps to introduce the regulations. This includes when the regulations should come into effect, what emissions should be disclosed, suggested methodology, interaction with other reporting schemes (such as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme) and the review period.
To read the Defra consultation, click here. To read the Aldersgate Group consultation response, click on the adjacent attachment.
Two AG members, Caroline Lucas MP and Tim Yeo MP, put down an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to permit the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to borrow from the capital markets before June 2015, subject to state aid approval. While this did not succeed, BIS Minister Matthew Hancock MP said during the Commons debate that the Government has "been very clear about our commitment to allow borrowing and will look at how best to bring that clarity".
This follows a letter that was signed by Andrew Raingold, AG's Executive Director, to the Deputy Prime Minister which calls for the Liberal Democrats to implement the policy positions adopted at their party conference on decarbonising the UK's power grid and earlier borrowing powers for the GIB. In addition, the state aid approval for the GIB has been approved by the European Commission.
A powerful alliance of the UK's largest businesses and industry bodies have written to the Chancellor, stating that a 2030 carbon target for the power sector is essential for stimulating new growth in the economy. Only greater clarity from Government can unleash the £110bn investment required to transform the UK's electricity infrastructure and drive wider economic benefits.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group said: "The message of this letter is loud and clear: we must put an end to any political uncertainty surrounding the UK's energy future and start unleashing the billions of pounds of overdue investment which will deliver new growth for our economy."
To read the letter to the Chancellor, click on the button to the right.
The Aldersgate Group's Executive Director, Andrew Raingold, has been appointed as a special advisor to the Environmental Audit Committee in a personal capacity.
He said: "I look forward to working with the committee to assess the Government performance in meeting its sustainability goals. The lesson from many leading businesses in these tough economic times is that adopting ambitious green policies can be a spur for growth and innovation, rather than being a drag on competitiveness."
The Aldersgate Group is working as a key stakeholder on the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)'s "Smarter Environmental Regulation Review". This review seeks to build on the findings of the Red Tape Challenge, reforming legislation over the long term.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group and a member of Defra's Critical Friends working group, said the priority is "to reduce the burden of environmental regulation whilst securing better environmental outcomes."
Defra has submitted suggestions for changes to guidance and reporting requirements to ministers and an announcement is pending.
To open the Friends of the Earth's Conference on "Seeing Things Differently", Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, argued that a priority for change must be the development of economic and accountancy frameworks which reflect full environmental costs and benefits.
He said that "currently, much of the world's land, forests, waters, air and ecosystems are being liquidated for short-term growth imperatives that will lead to massive costs later on. They appear on the balance sheet as zero and are often not accounted for in decision making."
Andrew was joined on the panel by authors Polly Higgins (Eradicating Ecocide) and James Marriott (Platform).
As part of its work on the Red Tape Challenge, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced it is scrapping 86 regulations and improving another 48, while maintaining strong environmental and consumer protection.
Terry A'Hearn, who heads up the Aldersgate Group workstream on regulation, commented:
"We welcome the Government's work in cutting back excessive and outdated regulation, whilst ensuring that protection of our environment remains as strong as ever. Smart regulation corrects market failures, drives innovation and provides the foundation for long-term economic growth, jobs and competitiveness and we congratulate DECC's recognition of the importance of prioritising these long-term outcomes."
To read DECC's press release, click here.
Responding to the publication of the EFRA committee's report on the Natural Environment White Paper, Ian Dickie, Aldersgate Group Director, said:
"The Committee is right to call for natural capital to be better integrated into Government decision-making, as highlighted in the Aldersgate Group's "Pricing the Priceless" report last year. The Committee calls on the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to lead a programme of action, but it should also demand leadership from the Treasury, which influences the way so many resources are used in the economy, in implementing that programme."