TV Dragon, businesses and charities unite in hard hat call on Cameron to back a greener economy
18 October 2012
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As energy tariffs hit front page news today (Thursday 18 October 2012), TV Dragon Deborah Meaden and around 250 representatives from renewable energy companies, trade associations, environment and development charities, the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) and faith groups lined up outside the Treasury in a united call on David Cameron to step in, green our electricity, and get all parts of his Government to start taking the green economy seriously.
The action comes on the morning Energy Secretary Ed Davey delivered a "myth busting" speech about the forthcoming Energy Bill at an event hosted by the CBI.
The action, led by the Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) Coalition of organisations such as Friends of the Earth, RSPB and Oxfam, is inspired by the iconic Saatchi & Saatchi 'Labour isn't working' advert used by the Conservative Party in 1979. But it had a green twist: everyone wore green hard hats to represent jobs in the low-carbon sector, and there were 'Green is Working' banners on display.
The groups went on to Downing Street to hand in a joint letter - signed by 55 signatories and copied to Chancellor George Osborne - calling on the Prime Minister to stand by the Climate Act he supported in opposition and step in to ensure his government doesn't lock the UK into decades of polluting fossil fuels.
The low-carbon sector is one of the few sectors of the economy that is booming - earlier this year the CBI announced that around a third of UK economic growth came from green business in 2011/12.
But in order to ensure the future of the green economy - and to help to prevent dangerous climate change - the groups say the Government needs to be bolder and clearer in its policies. They are calling on the Government to listen to its official advisor the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) by including a 2030 target in the forthcoming Energy Bill to give renewable energy investors the reassurance they are seeking to invest in Britain.
They are also calling on the Prime Minister to show his commitment to tackling climate change by including emissions from shipping and aviation in the Climate Act in 2012 - as recommended by the CCC earlier this year.
Dragons' Den entrepreneur Deborah Meaden said: "Greening our economy is a financial investment in our future - low-carbon is where business is going and it's where the jobs will be. But companies are only going to invest in clean British energy if they're sure the Government won't pull the rug out from under their feet - that's why there needs to be a target in the Energy Bill to clean up our electricity by 2030."
Friends of the Earth Executive Director Andy Atkins said: "The Energy Bill is the biggest test yet for the self-styled 'greenest government ever' - it must include a target to green our electricity by 2030. David Cameron needs to step in to prevent the Chancellor's costly and polluting dash for gas, and listen to senior politicians, businesses and the public by making clean British energy the powerhouse of our economy. Developing more of our electricity from the wind, sun and sea will create thousands of jobs in Britain and help to tackle rising fuel bills in the future."
RenewableUK Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith said: "Renewable energy gives us the chance to reduce our carbon emissions whilst investing in the skills for the future that will help British workers compete with others from around the world. What we need now is a positive policy framework that gives certainty for the future, which will allow us to realise the benefits that make clean energy the main way forward for both our economic and energy needs".
Chair of Stop Climate Chaos and CAFOD's Director of Advocacy and Communications Neil Thorns said: "What's providing vital growth in the UK, expanding confidently and enabling us to keep to the Climate Change Act? It's the green economy, stupid! And it really is time David Cameron took it seriously. The fact this sector is on the rise is testament to the strength and sustainability of green jobs, and the government must not undermine that progress. And while the green economy helps shore up the UK, it is especially vital to slowing devastating climate impacts affecting families and communities in poor countries right now."
Christian Aid Director of Policy and Public Affairs Christine Allen said: "The Prime Minister has described climate change as one of the gravest threats the world faces, so it is deeply disappointing to see his government reneging on its low-carbon commitments. Now is the time for urgent action - not broken promises which will make the danger worse than ever."
Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven said: "In the midst of a double dip recession, our green industries are bucking the trend and helping Britain weather the economic storm. But this is at risk unless David Cameron starts sending out the unequivocal message that Britain is open for green business."
Chair of the NFWI Ruth Bond said: "WI members have been passionate about preserving and protecting the environment since the WI's inception in 1915, which has never been more important than it is now. The government needs to stop playing roulette with our green energy policy and start acknowledging the need for a greener future for Britain."
Oxfam communications director Chris Gottlieb said: "Climate change is already having a devastating impact on some of the world's poorest communities. Droughts and floods are becoming increasingly frequent, making it harder for people to grow the food they need and contributing to higher food prices. Unless greenhouse emissions are slashed, we are facing a future of hunger and malnutrition for millions of people on our planet."
RSPB Chief Executive Mike Clarke said: "Wildlife is on the frontline when it comes to climate change. For many species this means that unless we get a handle on our carbon emissions now, extinction is on the horizon. That's why the RSPB is here today - by backing green business we can stop this from happening and give our economy a boost at the same time. If our political leaders make the decisions needed now to support green energy and green jobs then people and wildlife for generations to come will owe them a great debt."
Tearfund Chief Executive Matthew Frost said: "Sometimes it's a tough choice between doing the right thing or the easy thing. Today, the decision is straightforward. Growing the green economy is the easy thing - it's already happening - and it's the right thing for the millions of people affected by climate change."
Notes to editor
1. The letter to David Cameron from Stop Climate Chaos, EcoConnect, and renewable energy companies Good Energy and Ecotricity, is available from Friends of the Earth press office - 020 7566 1649.
2. The public can ask their MP to ensure David Cameron backs a greener economy by taking part in an e-action on Stop Climate Chaos' website: www.greenisworking.org.
3. The Energy Bill is being debated in Parliament from this November and will determine how the UK is powered for the next 20 years. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, RSPB and WWF are calling on the Government to include a target in the Energy Bill to decarbonise the power sector by 2030 - in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change. For more information see this joint statement: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/energy_jointngo_policy.pdf.
4. The Climate Change Act, which Stop Climate Chaos campaigned for, and which requires the UK to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, currently does not take into account emissions from shipping and aviation. In April this year the Committee on Climate Change said emissions from overseas air and sea should be included in legally-binding carbon budgets this year, to keep the UK on track. See: http://www.theccc.org.uk/news/press-releases/1168-ccc-recommends-formalising-existing-approaches-to-include-international-aviation-and-shipping-emissions-in-carbon-budgets.
5. In an infographic published in September 2012, the CBI said a third of economic growth in the UK came from green business in 2011/12: http://www.cbi.org.uk/infographics/how-the-uk-can-make-the-most-of-green-growth/. In July 2012 it launched a scathing attack on the Government for failing to recognise that boosting the economy and cutting emissions were two sides of the same coin, saying the UK could be a "global front-runner in the shift to low-carbon" and that it was a potential "goldmine". For further information see a speech by Director General John Cridland: http://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2012/07/green-or-growth-is-a-false-choice-%E2%80%93-cbi-chief/.
6. This morning Ed Davey gave a speech at an event hosted by the CBI, to "bust some of the myths" about the energy bill: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/cbi_ed/cbi_ed.aspx
7. Yesterday the Quad - David Cameron, George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg - met to discuss including a target in the Bill to green our electricity by 2030.
8. The Green Alliance report 'Green economy: a UK success story', published in August 2012, is available to download from: http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/grea_p.aspx?id=6629.
9. Government figures released in September 2012 showed that over three quarters of the public (77%) back renewable energy for providing our electricity, fuel and heat. http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/stats/6410-decc-public-att-track-surv-wave2-summary.pdf.
10. Deborah Meaden is Campaign Ambassador for Friends of the Earth's Clean British Energy campaign, which is urging the Government to use the Energy Bill to ensure more of our electricity comes from our wind, sun and water. For more information see www.cleanbritishenergy.co.uk.
11. Stop Climate Chaos is the UK's largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change and limiting its impact on the world's poorest communities. Our combined 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.
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
Last modified: Oct 2012