Energy secretary Ed Davey insisted he was “in charge” of coalition energy policy last night. His remarks follow the row with John Hayes earlier this month, when the energy minister said “enough is enough” and voiced his opposition to wind farms.
Facing questions from the energy committe, he said he wind turbines have a key role to play in future energy supply, and that, though he did not want to see wind turbines “all over the countryside”, the amount of power generated from on-shore wind would continue increasing as per the coalition’s aim to reduce carbon emissions and achieve a diverse energy mix.
Davey told MPs:
“I do not agree with what he said. I have tried to reassure people that that is not the case and that is not the policy… There is no cap and no limit on it but we want to pursue onshore wind in a sensible way.
“I really don’t want to see on-shore wind all over the English countryside, I don’t want that at all. But I do think there are parts of the country that are more welcoming than others for on-shore wind and I think they should get the benefit from that.”
“I do not apologise for discussing with my coalition colleagues to get to a settlement where we can say to parliament, to industry and the world, that this coalition government now has a settled position on energy policy.”
The urgency of the need to generate more clean, green energy was highlighted yesterday by the news climate gases had reached a “record high”.
The World Meteorolical Organization revealed:
Between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30% increase in radiative forcing - the warming effect on our climate - because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases.
Since the start of the industrial era in 1750, about 375 billion tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere as CO2, primarily from fossil fuel combustion, according to WMO’s 2011 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, which had a special focus on the carbon cycle. About half of this carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial biosphere.
With WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud warning:
“These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth. Future emissions will only compound the situation.
“Until now, carbon sinks have absorbed nearly half of the carbon dioxide humans emitted in the atmosphere, but this will not necessarily continue in the future. We have already seen that the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the carbon dioxide uptake, with potential repercussions for the underwater food chain and coral reefs.”
As Mary Riddell writes in the Telegraph this morning, the importance of the forthcoming energy bill – and the need for the views of wise heads like Davey to prevail over sceptics and deniers like Hayes and Peter Lilley – cannot be overstated:
Despite bitterness on both sides, the future of Britain’s energy supply is one of the few issues that must transcend narrow political considerations.
Yesterday an alliance of 200 investment institutions, controlling £13 trillion in assets worldwide, begged Mr Osborne to act faster on climate change. That petition, which adds to the pressure on the Chancellor to cut Britain’s reliance on gas, is part of a worldwide lobbying exercise before the international climate change negotiations that begin in Doha on Monday.
The chances of this summit producing substantive change are less likely than wind turbines springing up in John Hayes’s back garden. Arch-sceptics apart, citizens of rich nations have an Augustinian view on climate change: make me green, Lord, but not quite yet. With time running out, economic growth and a secure and affordable energy supply hang in the balance.
The future of unborn generations will depend, in part, on a battered energy bill now being wrangled over to the bitter end.