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.
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."
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."
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."
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.
A survey of energy experts from the UK’s largest businesses finds that only 5% of respondents expect the UK’s energy prices to be less than its competitor economies in 2015, with 62% expecting them to be higher. This is due to a lack of investment in new generating capacity to replace decommissioned coal-fired power stations. The survey was undertaken by Green Monday in partnership with the Aldersgate Group.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “The rising costs of energy in the UK are a major concern for businesses and households. The corporate survey demonstrates that it is the price of fossil fuels, not green policies, that will have the biggest impact on rising bills. These findings are consistent with Government analysis which finds that recent energy bill increases are primarily due to increased wholesale gas costs.”
“The cheapest way to address this challenge is to reduce demand. There must be much more focus on incentivising consumers and businesses to use less energy rather than investing in expensive new supply.”
For coverage in the Telegraph, click here.
Responding to the Committee on Climate Change's 2012 Progress Report, Aldersgate Group Chairman, Peter Young, said that more action is needed on the low carbon agenda.
"With low carbon policies estimated at delivering only a quarter of that required to meet future carbon budgets, the days of discussing options for a step change in growing the UK low carbon economy are over. Implementation must start now with the focus on action and delivery.
Our emergence from austerity risks bringing us slow brown growth not the fast green growth that would deliver future carbon budgets."
In an article for The Learning Rep, the flagship skills publication of the TUC and Unionlearn, the Aldersgate Group lead on skills, John Edmonds, has said that it is crucial not to abandon re-skilling opportunities for the existing workforce in favour of investing exclusively in the next generation. He said the current workforce should have an "opportunity of changing direction, of taking on new skills, or preparing for the new economy".
The Aldersgate Group has welcomed plans by the Government to ensure that London Stock Exchange companies will be required to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions in their annual reports. This follows a four year campaign from the Aldersgate Group which drafted the original amendments to the Climate Change Act and wrote to Nick Clegg last month to demand an urgent decision before the Rio+20 Earth Summit.
Andrew Raingold, Executive Director for the Aldersgate Group, said: "Our members strongly welcome the introduction of mandatory carbon reporting following extensive input into the process. This is an area where corporate executives have been demanding more regulation from government to provide greater clarity and transparency. This announcement should pave the way to extend the requirements to all large companies in due course and demonstrates genuine UK leadership on reporting at the Rio+20 Earth Summit."
In a speech to the RSA, AG Member Lord Chris Smith criticises those in the green movement who oppose all growth and praises big business that has already recognised the benefits of green growth and sustainable production. And he makes a robust defence of the role for good regulation in setting a level playing field, supporting innovation and reducing pollution.
His strongest criticism is reserved for those in the Republican Party in the USA, such as Sarah Palin, who have overseen the "disastrous politicisation" of climate change and prevented action, while welcoming the cross-party action on climate change in the UK.
In an article in the Environmentalist (here), Tim Yeo MP and Peter Young, Aldersgate Group Chairman, consider the progress of the coalition on meeting its pledge to be the greenest government ever after two years. It debates both the positives and the negatives, concluding that more progress needs to be made in the next three years.
This must include more champions across Whitehall. "You can see why the Treasury's focus is on the deficit, and that's only right; but it shouldn't ignore long-term success" says Tim Yeo.
The Aldersgate Group (AG) has welcomed a new report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee on 'Consumption-Based Emissions Reporting'.
Chris Tuppen, Director of the AG and a witness to the inquiry, said: "Just as companies are being encouraged to report their carbon emissions across their supply chain, so should governments. This would help to influence the overall purchasing behaviours of organisations and inform policy decisions at all levels. We welcome the Committee’s recommendation that the Government should explore the ways in which it can incorporate consumption-based emissions data into its policy making process."