UK risks climate credibility with drastic cuts to renewable subsidies

UK risks climate credibility

Creative Commons: Berit Watkin, 2011

The UK government is risking its climate credibility at home and abroad this week, as reports show it could be on the cusp of enacting more drastic cuts to renewable energy subsidies.

The news follows last month’s decision to end financial aid for onshore wind, and this time around, speculation is that the government could announce steep cuts to solar support, the shelving of plans for the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, and an increased focus on new nuclear and gas power capacity.

Climate and energy secretary, Amber Rudd offered little reassurance to the renewables industry as she faced her first quizzing by the Energy and Climate Change Committee today.

Further confirming fears that solar energy could be next on the subsidies chopping board, Rudd insisted that renewables, especially onshore wind and solar, should be able to compete on cost with dangerous fossil fuels before 2020.

Her messages send a mixed signal. On the one hand the government claims to be a global leader on climate change, but on the other it is effectively pulling the rug out from under the renewable industry’s feet just at the moment it needs a final push towards independence.

At the same time the government is proposing an increase in oil and gas production, a new shale gas industry, watered down energy efficiency standards, and end to requirements for ‘zero carbon’ homes and increased taxes on clean energy.

This ignores calls from communities, businesses and experts all arguing for greater clarity and support for the renewable energy transition and the multiple benefits of an industry that is responsible for 112,000 jobs and is bringing £14.9 billion to the UK economy.

Despite this, country is still lagging behind all other European member states on clean energy and risks falling short of its EU target of generating 15 per cent of energy from renewables by 2020.

The pattern is clear, warns REA, where policy “is stable and supportive there have been considerable successes. Where the opposite is true technologies have stalled”.

By continuing to backtrack on previous support for this growing industry, the government is risking thousands of jobs, billions in investment and UK’s credibility in Europe and around the world.

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