Ministers shooting themselves in the foot on energy policy
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group, writing in Guardian Sustainable Business (click here), argues that a muddled energy strategy is confusing businesses and undermining the transition to a more secure, low-carbon future. In their attempt to drive bills down, politicians are forcing bills up, leading to an own goal of "Blockbuster" proportions.
Government scoring own goal on energy policy
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group, has written to the Prime Minister setting out business’ concern of the recent politicisation of UK energy policy. He says that mixed messages from Government are creating “risk, ambiguity and mistrust”.
Peter Young warned that: “The Government is scoring a spectacular own goal as the jumbled energy policy debate increases today the very costs that Government is seeking to reduce, and increases the costs for business tomorrow by not delivering an efficient, less fossil-reliant energy supply. The very real danger is that we shoot ourselves in the foot and fail to deliver an affordable, secure and low carbon energy mix.”
For further information, see Roger Harrabin analysis on the bbc website (click here), citing the letter and, "warning that in their attempt to drive bills down, politicians may be forcing bills up." Also see coverage in The Mirror.
Political agenda must put long-term interests of citizens at its heart
In an interview for leading carpet manufacturer Interface, Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said that we need a political and economic agenda that puts the long-term interests of citizens at its heart. This must be built on "a new mindset" that encapsulates how we can prosper in a very different world; "a heroic nation in a struggle for future prosperity". Read the Cut the Fluff blog for more on dubious sustainability claims, ad man spin and electric toothbrushes.
EU-China Summit must deliver green growth outcomes
The Aldersgate Group have written to both David Cameron and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, to urge the EU to propose an ambitious set of concrete initiatives on green growth at the EU-China Summit.
In collaboration with E3G and EU CLG, the joint letters state that the Summit represents a critical opportunity to align European and Chinese interests on the green economy, and formulate a new approach to the EU-China relationship which maximises mutual opportunities and better manages trade tensions.
Further integration of European and Chinese markets would deliver immediate and large business opportunities for European firms. China will spend $8 trillion on urbanisation and over $1 trillion on power systems to 2020. The majority of this investment will need to be clean, efficient and low carbon. The letter sets out four priorities to help create a "Green Growth Area" between the EU and China.
Davey welcomes AG Energy Bill intervention
Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has warmly welcomed a letter sent by the Aldersgate Group (AG), calling for a meaningful decarbonisation target to be included in the Energy Bill in 2014. His letter states: "I am genuinely grateful for your letter and was impressed by the significant investor numbers and names who are clearly supportive of an ambitious approach to tackling climate change."
Whilst recognising "that we need to decarbonise our power sector significantly", Mr Davey insisted that "the Government is taking powers in the Energy Bill to set a target range for electricity sector decarbonisation for 2030." The Aldersgate Group has criticised the Government's approach to the decarbonisation target which is unduly weak, and coordinated a letter with UK SIF arguing that the Energy Bill must create the obligation to include a decarbonisation target in 2014, to be implemented by 2030. The letter was signed by investors with over £1 trillion assets under management worldwide and sent to the Chancellor in September 2013.
Read Mr Davey's full letter adjacent. To read the investors' letter to the Chancellor, click here.
Biodiversity offsetting report welcomed
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has published its report into biodiversity offsetting in England (click here). Drawing on multiple submissions of oral and written evidence, including from the Aldersgate Group (click here to read), the report is cautiously in favour of biodiversity offsetting providing the correct measures and safeguards are implemented. The Committee insists that biodiversity offsetting must not be allowed to give developers a "carte blanche to concrete".
Ian Dickie, Director of the Aldersgate Group and author of the Group's submission, said: "Biodiversity offsetting can be an appropriate tool to help tackle conservation objectives, providing it ensures existing levels of protection and is mandatory. We would warn that understanding of biodiversity offsetting is currently at a low level, which makes it vital that the Government does not rush this process and takes due time to design an effective system."
High quality biodiversity offsets appropriate for conservation
The Aldersgate Group has responded to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)'s consultation on biodiversity offsetting.
The Group's response finds that the most important goal for this area is biodiversity protection and enhancement, which makes offsetting an appropriate tool to help with wildlife conservation objectives in England, providing it is structured appropriately. The framework must ensure no dilution of existing protection and that the system is robust and mandatory.
The Aldersgate Group has also co-signed a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling for offsetting to be mandatory. This letter can be viewed here.
Lords’ vote against decarbonisation is major missed opportunity
Today the House of Lords missed an historic opportunity to be consistent with the Government’s commitment to being "the greenest government ever" and put growth at the top of the agenda. In a vote on whether to include a firm and foreseeable commitment to decarbonise the power sector by 2030, the peers voted against, leaving business and investors without the clear and cost effective path towards a decarbonised economy, that they have been demanding from the Government.
Peter Young, Chairman of the Aldersgate Group said: "This is a major missed opportunity, not just for UK green businesses which gave us a trade surplus of £5 billion last year, but to global businesses and investors poised to create jobs and contribute to growth here in the UK. The conflict between the Government's green pretensions and its increasing determination to procrastinate whilst relying on high carbon, polluting technologies will send global investors elsewhere and slow sorely needed business growth in the UK. The uncertainty that this Government has caused is already delaying desperately urgent UK investment. Meanwhile, our global competitors are developing tomorrow’s solutions with capital which could have been deployed in the UK to the benefit of our economy, both now and in the long term, when delayed modernisation of our power mix will be more expensive."
Aldersgate urges PM to maintain green levies
The Aldersgate Group has added its support to a letter sent to the Prime Minister, calling on him not to scale back the green levies included in energy bills. The letter argues that the "only sure way" to protect households against rising bills in the long term is through energy efficiency. This is supported by measures such as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) which targets vulnerable and low income households and "hard to treat" properties. Cancelling this measure would increase the energy bill for these consumers, who are least able to afford it.
To read the full letter, click here.
Aldersgate calls for ETS reform legislation
The Aldersgate Group has signed a letter to the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barosso, calling for draft legislation for a structural reform of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) to be brought forward by the end of the year. The letter was signed by 53 businesses, investors and associations, who believe that a clear carbon price signal and long-term visibility are essential to drive investment and growth. To view the letter click here.