I’m half way through my third day at the Lima UN climate change talks and the negotiations look set to go to the wire this weekend.
But that’s not because there’s some crisis in the global talks – it’s because these are the most technically complex and politically challenging global negotiations ever. To make global agreements on how we move our carbon world to a low carbon world is an extraordinary task.
Liberal Democrats in Government already have a record of green energy delivery to be proud of. Renewable electricity generation and investment have both more than doubled since 2010 and our reforms will create 250,000 low carbon jobs by the end of the decade. Britain is ranked No.1 in the world for offshore wind investment, onshore wind now produces around 5% of the UK’s electricity and solar generating capacity increased by 60% last year.
When a Government introduces a new policy you would hope Ministers have some evidence that the policy is likely to work. There are few areas more important than education for having an evidence-based approach to new policies than education. Children shouldn’t be used as experiments for a fashionable theory.
We’ve done it! For Liberal Democrats in government, this EU climate deal is our most significant green win so far. While Liberal Democrats are passionate about tackling climate change, the likes of Owen Paterson and UKIP seem to delight in talking down the threat that it poses, but that should make us even more determined to tell people why this deal is so crucial.
I’m writing from the Climate Change Summit in New York, hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. While Liberal Democrats don’t need reminding just how much of a threat climate change is – from the increased risks of flooding, to the impact on the world’s poorest – I thought it timely to give you an update on the progress we’ve made and what comes next.
On Monday, I summarised the appearances of Ed Davey at last weekend’s Social Liberal Forum conference in London. Here, I outline some of the views expressed and initiatives described by Ed on the day, including during a bloggers’ interview:
Using less energy
Fuel poverty is a serious issue. Energy inefficient building stock is a key cause.
My feelings during all this were similar to when Steve Webb addressed a local party supper club. I was thinking “Hey, this guy is doing fantastic, long-term stuff. Why the heck haven’t I heard about it before?”.
Today I published the Government’s first ever ‘Energy Investment Report’. It shows how Liberal Democrats in Government have delivered on jobs and investment in energy – particularly green energy – and shows the plan we now have for this to continue for decades to come.
Let me be clear – investment in the energy sector has not been a ‘nice to have’. We inherited a legacy of energy underinvestment from Labour and we’ve spent the last four years turning this around. The sheer scale of the investment has already been huge: between 2010 and 2013 we’ve secured £45 billion of investment in electricity generation and networks alone. The UK’s future energy infrastructure investment is larger than transport, communications and water spending combined.
President Barack Obama recently said in an interview on climate and energy that if there’s one thing he would like to see, it would be for the U.S. to be able to put a price on carbon emissions. He is right -- an effective market-driven approach to carbon pricing is crucial to tackling climate change and reducing emissions. The U.K. was the first to adopt carbon trading in 2002, and it continues to trade under the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.
Liberal Democrats in Government are doing everything possible to help consumers with their energy bills. Just last week I announced that by the end of the year energy suppliers will halve the time it takes to switch energy supplier from the current five to two and a half weeks. This is just the first step to achieving my ambition of achieving 24 hour switching.
There are many reasons why I believe Britain must stay in the European Union.
The peace and security Europe has enjoyed for nearly 70 years is partly a result of European nations working more closely together than ever before. As we commemorate the centenary of the First World War this year, for many people peace will be reason enough to stay in the EU.
Today I have announced the award of 8 new contracts for renewable electricity projects which will provide around £12 billion of private sector investment and once built will contribute around 4% of Britain’s electricity capacity.
These projects will support 8500 jobs and our overall electricity reform plans will generate over 200,000 green jobs. These projects and the jobs created will be across Britain – from the Moray Firth to Liverpool Bay and from Teesside to Norfolk.
Five of the projects are for offshore wind power generation – further reinforcing the UK’s No 1 position for offshore wind capacity and investment.
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