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Date posted: 23 May 2013
Press release, 23 May 2013: Operation Noah calls on Liberal Democrat MPs to vote for a crucial amendment to the Energy Bill in parliament on 3 June, and not to let a once-in-a-generation opportunity slip through their fingers.
The amendment, which sets a target to decarbonise power generation by 2030, has been proposed by Tim Yeo MP, Conservative Chair of the Environment Select Committee.
Isabel Carter, Chair of Operation Noah, said, ‘This amendment is critical to reducing the UK’s reliance on imported fossil fuels, creating new jobs in the renewables sector and meeting the UK’s legally binding cuts to emissions from fossil fuels.’
While some Lib Dem MPs have agreed to support the amendment, which is precisely in line with Liberal Democrat policy, others have argued that doing so would jeopardise the bill, and that – even though it would help to fulfil the coalition agreement – it is not possible for the coalition to carry the amendment. Nevertheless, some Conservative MPs have announced that they will back the amendment.
Dr Carter said, ‘I understand that coalition government is not straightforward, but the Liberal Democrats have been talking about creating a low carbon future for 20 years. That future is now. In a week when atmospheric CO2 levels have reached 400ppm it has become painfully obvious that we need to act to cut pollution from fossil fuels by switching to clean alternatives.
Without this amendment we lock ourselves in to a new generation of gas power stations, which investors and operators will expect to remain operational for 15 to 20 years. This would not just be foolish economically – tying us into unstable gas prices and removing the UK from the huge growth and job opportunities of renewables – but also profoundly immoral, as we would be knowingly giving future generations, and the millions of species with which we share this planet, less chance of survival.
‘Supporting the target, however, would allow the UK to show world leadership in the face of climate change, providing leverage for future international negotiations, and certainty for renewable investment. Voting for the amendment is unquestionably the right thing to do. Liberal Democrats passed a very clear resolution on decarbonisation at their last party Conference. This is the moment for the Lib Dems to stand true to their principles, to listen to science rather than the knee-jerk reaction from the Treasury, and to choose basic common sense.’
Operation Noah believes that the UK has a moral responsibility to move as rapidly as possible towards a zero carbon economy. Individuals, churches and communities must play their part, but the magnitude of change that is needed requires courageous government leadership.
‘It is our experience that people are willing to change their behaviour and reduce their use of energy, but they expect the Government to demonstrate leadership and commitment – this is a two-way deal,’ Dr Carter said. ‘Failure to introduce a decarbonisation target now would reveal the soft underbelly of the Government’s green credentials.’
1. MPs will be voting on the decarbonisation target amendment to the Energy Bill on 3 June.
2. Operation Noah is an ecumenical Christian charity providing leadership, focus and inspiration in response to the growing threat of catastrophic climate change.
3. In 2012, Operation Noah published the Ash Wednesday Declaration – Climate change and the purposes of God: a call to the Church. The declaration was signed by many church leaders and challenges the church to realise that care for God’s creation – and concern about climate change – is foundational to the Christian gospel and central to the church’s mission. One practical outworking of this declaration is the call for a decarbonised economy in the UK by 2030.
4. According to the coalition agreement, ‘The Government believes that climate change is one of the gravest threats we face, and that urgent action at home and abroad is required.’
5. At the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Brighton, in October 2012, the following resolution called on the Coalition Government to take action as follows:
Conference calls on the Coalition Government to do everything possible to stimulate growth within its ﬁscal mandate, including to: …
2. Stimulate green growth in the economy and create framework where there is greater certainty and conﬁdence among businesses to invest in renewable energy, including by:
b) Establishing a target range of 50-100g of CO2 per kwh for the decarbonisation of power sector by 2030 in addition to existing carbon emission reductions.
6. An Energy Bill is currently going through Parliament that will determine how our electricity is produced and regulated. In its current form it does not provide a target for decarbonisation, giving the green light to a new dash for gas. Tim Yeo, Conservative, has proposed a decarbonisation target amendment which should give the investment community the certainty they need to invest in low carbon energy.
7. The Climate Change Committee, the independent, statutory body set up to advise the UK Government on emissions targets, said, ‘Early decarbonisation of the power sector should be plan A – and the dash for gas Plan Z … It will be essential going forward to ensure that the Electricity Market Reform is aimed at achieving a carbon intensity of 50 gCO2/kWh in 2030 through investment in a portfolio of low-carbon technologies, rather than a dash for gas which would raise long term costs and risks.’
8. In an open letter from the Climate Change Committee in February, their chair, Lord Deben writes, ‘The delay in setting this [target] until 2016 at the earliest means that a high degree of uncertainty about sector development beyond 2020 remains. This will adversely impact on supply chain investment decisions and project development, therefore undermining implementation of the Bill and raising costs for consumers.’
9. Speaking at the RSA last week, the former Special Representative for Climate Change at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, John Ashton CBE, said, ‘I can’t myself see how any MP who votes against the target [in the Energy Bill] will thereafter be able credibly to claim that they support an effective response to climate change.’