This Blog is a big admirer of Josie Long – more so since the action described in this article. If you have less fondness for her, the details about subsidies for fossil fuels – in comparison with those for renewables – are illuminating.
Back in August, the government sneaked out a consultation to cut support for solar, wind and hydro power by 87%. There are strong indications the driving force behind these cuts is the Treasury, not the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
If the cuts go ahead as proposed, 20,000 solar jobs are at risk, and several solar companies have already had to close. And, reading a leaked letter from the energy secretary, Amber Rudd, it looks like we’re now not going to meet our legally binding EU renewables targets for 2020.
This is why David Cameron’s presence at last week’s climate summit in Paris was such a national embarrassment. These cuts have been questioned by everyone from the CBI to Al Gore to the National Farmers Union to the UN’s chief environment scientist. Everyone else at the summit was announcing awesome solar projects while Cameron rocked up with nothing, pushed to the front of the photos shouting “I’m also helping somehow!” (and stole all of the good canapés).
But it’s not too late. A formal decision on these cuts is expected this week.
Which is why I ended up rigging scaffolding on to the outside of the Conservative constituency office in Knutsford, Cheshire, at 6am, with a solar installer ready to hook George up with a small 1.5kWp solar rig (six panels).
According to the IMF, Britain subsidises fossil fuels by a whopping £400 per person. That’s over seven times as much as we subsidise renewables. In fact, Britain under Osborne is now the only G7 country to be increasing subsidies to fossil fuels. Plus, unlike planet-screwing fossil fuels, solar could actually be subsidy-free in a few years. At this crucial stage for the industry, it makes no sense to pull the plug.
It would be funny if it wasn’t devastating and stupid.
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