Accusations of hypocrisy were hurled at the UK’s energy and climate secretary Amber Rudd yesterday as she said that “tackling global change cannot be left to only the leftwing politicians” just days after her Tory department made huge financial cuts that in fact restricted and reduced support in this area.
Friends Of The Earth dubbed Amber Rudd’s statement as “window dressing” by suggesting that she has green concerns at heart, whilst only last week her department cut subsidies to solar power projects, and also removed the guaranteed level of subsidy for fossil fuel power plants that switch to greener renewable fuels. The implementation of these subsidies were celebrated for rewarding and therefore encouraging home owners to invest in solar energy panels, however the government has unveiled plans to slash these subsidies considerably in areas such as solar, onshore wind and biomass investment. On top of this, a decade-long plan to force all new homes to be ‘zero carbon’ from 2016 was binned by the Treasury earlier this month. Rudd commented upon this, insisting that her intent was to “bring expenditure costs down” -but is she really saving you money? And at what consequence? At what point will the diagnosis of the faltering environment be considered a crisis worthy of action?
Richard Kirkman, technical director of environmental services group Veolia UK expressed his concern at “the return to the dark age total reliance upon fossil fuels.” Indeed a cut in the subsidies of alternative power sources removes a large element of incentive for many. However this is not the only hindrance; the government should be investing in supporting renewable fuel solutions and leading by example. Amber Rudd’s department is reinforcing a broken system of penny pinching in all areas, when in fact the long term benefits of renewable fuels such as hydro electricity and solar power is not only sustainable and clean, but also far more cost effective. The assumption that inferior technology is holding back alternative fuel options is no longer valid. Rather the hindrance lies is the negative attitude of capitalists in power towards transitioning into a cleaner society, focusing instead on monetising upon a limited resource.
However it is clear that there is a public demand for alternative energy sources, and that it is a matter worthy of being addressed. Cannock Chase is the second most deprived area in Staffordshire after Stoke on Trent, with high levels of fuel poverty throughout. However just before Christmas, the council invested in a scheme that saw £1 million raised and installed panels on around 400 bungalows in Cannock Chase. Councillor Frank Allen, Cabinet Lead for Housing said that they targeted bungalows to benefit the older members of the community who may be vulnerable and most require support. This recognition of environmental issues on a local level should be projected on a larger national scale. It is estimated that over £500 million has been cut from solar subsidies, and whilst Rudd will tell you she is saving you money, don’t celebrate yet because on average it is saving the average home owner just 50p a year on electricity bills. Very little is being saved whilst an awful lot is being lost.
Craig Bennett, chief executive at Friends of the Earth, said: “The government’s credibility on tackling climate change is hanging in tatters. Amber Rudd appears to have been wheeled out to say a few warm words on tackling climate change.” Under the ruse of saving working class families money on their bills, the government may well be sacrificing the future of naturally-occurring renewable fuels.
Whether you are a home owner that has benefited from the change in energy costs, or a green supporter that agrees that Rudd’s promises for a cleaner climate is a stock blanket to decorate investment slashes; ChaseIssues wants to hear from you! Email now: firstname.lastname@example.org