Gordon Brown's climate cowardice

I’ve been away for a while, sorry about that. (And I flew across the Atlantic whilst I was away, I’ll have to look into offsets.) But I’m back again now, and with something to really rant about.

Ministers are drawing up plans to abandon plans and promises to drastically increase Britain’s renewable energy production. Faced with some expense and a bit of hard work, new New Labour (or whatever we’re supposed to call them now Gordon’s in charge) want to bottle out and go home. So they’re trying to team up with Poland and others to try and have the targets turned down before the final draft goes through.

Some of the reasoning behind this move is nonsensical to say the least.

One of the main objections of government to meeting the renewables target set by Mr Blair is that it will undermine the role of the European emission trading scheme. This scheme was devised by the Treasury under Mr Brown and allows wealthy governments to pay others to reduce emissions. “[Meeting the 20% renewables target] crucially undermines the scheme’s credibility … and reduces the incentives to invest in other carbon technologies like nuclear power”, say the papers.

Investment in reducing emissions is going to harm investments in reducing emissions? That doesn’t make any sense.

Gordon could find the estimated £4billion a year required to make the change, probably quite easily. For one thing he could stop funding terrorism by bringing all of our troops back from Iraq and coming up with a more coherent plan for Afghanistan. He could create a multi billion pound industry in this country by subsidising start ups in the renewables sector (who’ll than employ lots of people and pay masses of tax). And he could champion smaller, local, schemes that aren’t as doomed as resurrecting nuclear power or hopelessly long term as a Severn barrage. Mini barrages up and down tidal estuaries might be an idea. Or community geothermal schemes. Taxing/ banning incandescent bulbs and putting a rebate on compact fluorescents would help cut the country’s energy needs drastically, as would increasing the standards for new build homes.

There’s so much that could be done that would pay back so quickly. I fear our political class lacks imagination and spines.

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