IN A SPEECH to the Global Warming Policy Foundation the former Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, claimed that the government’s green polices were ‘fatally flawed’ and that scrapping the Climate Change Act could be the answer to ‘keeping the lights on’.
Paterson delivered his address to the leading think tank arguing that the 2008 Climate Change Act, which ties Britain into stringent targets to reduce the use of fossil fuels, should be suspended until other countries agree to take similar measures. If they refuse, the legislation should be scrapped altogether, he will say.
This is the first significant entry into the green energy debate that Paterson has made since his departure from the Cabinet earlier in the year.
His position is that the UK is the only country to sign up to ‘impossible’ targets to cut emissions by 2050 and this will lead to a situation whereby the cost of investment to meet the targets will be so huge they simply ‘can’t be achieved’.
The comments from Paterson came at the same time as the Footprint Forum hosted a discussion and debate on collaborative approaches to developing infrastructure in cities to keep pace with the exploding population.
Key figures from a cross-section of industries including finance, facilities and the civil service gathered to debate the implications of delivering key services in the face if decreased natural resources and increased global numbers with predicted population growth at 2 billion by 2050.
Paterson speech underpinned assertions put forward by Footprint Forum that policy changes were needed to ensure the UK coped with the issues:
“Blind adhesion to the 2050 targets will not reduce emissions and will fail to keep the lights on,”
“The current energy policy is a slave to flawed climate action.
“It will cost £1,100 billion, fail to meet the very emissions targets it is designed to meet, and will not provide the UK’s energy requirements.
“In the short and medium term, costs to consumers will rise dramatically, but there can only be one ultimate consequence of this policy: the lights will go out at some time in the future.
“Not because of a temporary shortfall, but because of structural failures, from which we will find it extremely difficult and expensive to recover.”
He said that the current “decarbonisation route” will end with the worst of all possible worlds.
The Government will have to build gas and coal power stations “in a screaming hurry”.
The Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey responded: "The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that climate change exists while most leading British businesses and City investment funds agree with the Coalition that taking out an 'insurance policy' now will protect the UK against astronomical future costs caused by a changing climate.
"Indeed, the majority of European countries have now come around to the UK's way of thinking and are ready to implement proposals that would see other European countries adopt targets similar to our Climate Change Act in a deal the Prime Minister should seal later this month.
"With the USA, China and India also now taking the climate change threat seriously and investing in low carbon energy, the global marketplace for green technology Britain is increasingly strong in, should balloon over the next decade so ripping up the Climate Change Act would be one of the most stupid economic decisions imaginable."