Archived press release
Low-carbon strategy is major step towards a cleaner, safer future

In response to today’s low-carbon strategies announced by the Government, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:

“Today’s announcements are a significant step towards the creation of a safe, clean and low-carbon future.

“Developing the UK’s world class renewable energy potential and getting tough on energy waste will create new green jobs and industries, tackle fuel poverty and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.

“Paying homes, businesses and communities for generating clean power will enable millions of people to make money from the green energy revolution – we’re pleased that ministers have pledged to protect vulnerable people from unfair energy price hikes.

“We’re delighted that the Government has adopted many of the measures that Friends of the Earth has been calling for including feed-in tariffs and putting tackling climate change at the heart of energy regulator Ofgem’s remit.

“But bolder measures are still required to ensure that the UK plays its full part in combating climate change - we need more ambitious emissions cuts, greater levels of investment and an industrial strategy that really delivers.

“In particular the Government must listen to scientific advice and agree to cut UK emissions by at least 42 per cent by 2020 – and ensure these targets are met by real action at home and not by buying offsets from abroad.

“Ed Miliband should be congratulated for the genuine leadership he has shown ahead of crucial UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December – we hope he can persuade the rest of Government to go even further.”

1. Friends of the Earth reaction to today’s strategies

Good

• The Government has announced that the principle objective of the energy regulator Ofgem will be amended to include tackling climate change and security of supply. Ofgem’s short-term focus has previously resulted in a wide range of failures including delays in connection for renewable energy  and under-investment in low-carbon technologies.  Friends of the Earth has been calling for a change to Ofgem’s remit.
• We welcome the creation of a low carbon economic area in the west country.
• The Government has agreed to update its planning policy guidelines on renewable energy and climate change. Friends of the Earth and the Town and Country Planning Association have been leading the call for this to happen.
• The commitment to a joined-up approach across Government is very welcome, as is the commitment to delivering 15% of renewable energy by 2020 from domestic sources. There appears to be a genuine commitment to a radical transformation of UK energy generation.


Could do better

• We welcome the announcement on the introduction of Feed-in Tariffs in April 2010 – Friends of the Earth has led the call for Feed-in tariffs because it will encourage homes, businesses and communities to fit small scale renewable energy systems. However the levels of the tariff are not high enough to deliver the huge economic potential for this growing industry. The levels are particularly low for commercial and municipal schemes, and there are concerns about the payments for solar and wind technologies.

Not so good

• Targets/offsetting – we are disappointed that the Government has only committed to a target of a 34 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2020. The Government’s advisory body the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommended that this change to a 42 per cent cut following a “global deal” in Copenhagen later this year. The Government has not accepted this recommendation, but instead has asked the Climate Change Committee to review the target post Copenhagen.
• Whilst the low carbon industrial strategy recognises the key climate change issues, there are problems. It is heavy on analysis but short on new policies and new finance. It does not link to the overall carbon budget strategy and it does not set targets for what the strategy is trying to achieve. The funding streams announced are in large part re-announcements of funding committed through the Budget.
• It was announced today that the green turbine manufacturing plant on the Isle of Wight, Vestas, will close tomorrow. Whilst announcing the new low carbon industrial strategy, the Government is failing to provide the measures to support Vestas. In comparison the Government’s Automotive Assistance Programme has provided £2.3 billion in loan guarantees (some from the European Investment Bank) to support the UK car industry through the current economic downturn.
• Friends of the Earth has called for a Green Infrastructure Bank to guarantee the delivery of low carbon investment via loans, loan guarantees and direct investment. The Government has failed to include this in the plans it announced today.

2. Friends of the Earth’s reaction to the Government’s transport strategy:
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/low-carbon_transport-strategy_15072009.html

3.   Friends of the Earth believes the environment is for everyone. We want a healthy planet and a good quality of life for all those who live on it. We inspire people to act together for a thriving environment. For further information visit www.foe.co.uk

4.    Friends of the Earth is part of Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, the UK's largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change and limiting its impact on the world's poorest communities. The coalition's supporter base of more than 11 million people spans over 100 organisations, from environment and development charities to unions, faith, community and women's groups. Together we demand practical action by the UK to keep temperatures well below an average 2 degree rise. For further information visit www.stopclimatechaos.org.

 

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

 

Published by Friends of the Earth Trust