Liberal Democrat MPs should vote on June 4th to support new investment in clean energy

*UPDATE 04/06/13 @ 13.00: further signatories are listed below. Also, Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton is planning to vote for a decarbonisation target*

As featured in the Independent on Sunday, The Social Liberal Forum has sent the letter below to all non-Ministerial Liberal Democrat MPs, urging them to follow eleven of their colleagues in supporting the inclusion of a clear target to decarbonising the UK energy supply.

Dear Colleague,

On June 4th Liberal Democrats have an historic opportunity to positively shape energy and climate policy and in so doing give genuine credibility to this Government’s stated ambition of being the “greenest ever”.

Much has been made of the need for a decarbonisation target, a measure that, if included in the Energy Bill, would drive investment to slash the carbon intensity of UK electricity production by 2030, bringing with it huge jobs and growth benefits to many corners of the UK.  It’s a measure that goes to the heart of our narrative about building a strong economy based on green growth.

Thanks to our Ministers, who overcame resistance from right-wing Tories, the Bill does make a provision to allow a target to be set in the future – but as industry itself, and the Government’s independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), have made clear, investors in low-carbon energy need more certainty than this possible future promise before they go ahead and invest billions in new renewable energy installations. The main reason for their current lack of confidence in low-carbon investment is the repeated attacks Chancellor Osborne and the Tory right have made on environmental regulation in general, and renewables in particular.

Clearly our ministers have to back the Bill as it stands – but as Liberal Democrat MPs outside government, you have the chance to vote for the inclusion of a target, countering Osborne’s undermining of the coalition commitment to decarbonise the UK economy and unlocking new sources of investment in British energy. This is also fully in line with Liberal Democrat policy, as voted for by conference in September 2012.

Adding a decarbonisation target would clearly be good for growth, jobs and household energy bills. Just last week the CCC estimated that, as well as undermining efforts to tackle climate change, George Osborne’s ‘dash for gas’ would add at a minimum an extra £25 billion to energy bills, compared to a future powered by home-grown renewables that would be the inevitable consequence of a decarbonisation target.

Reflecting the growing concern about the target’s absence from the Bill, on 16 May the former Special Representative for Climate Change, John Ashton CBE, said “it is vital that the target be restored. I can’t myself see how any MP who votes against the target will thereafter be able credibly to claim that they support an effective response to climate change.”

Forty-one MPs from all the major parties have signed an amendment that would see a firm target introduced by April 2014, in line with CCC advice. Many of you have done so, and we hope your colleagues will join you in supporting the amendment on June 4th.

We urge you to vote for the inclusion of a clear decarbonisation target on June 4th.

Yours sincerely,

Prateek Buch, Director
Gareth Epps and Naomi Smith, Council Co-Chairs
Martin Tod, Political Director
Simon P. Hughes, David Grace, Paula Keaveney, Linda Jack, Mathew Hulbert, Kelly-Marie Blundell, Robert Hutchison – Council members
Social Liberal Forum

Duncan Brack, Editor of the Green Book
Lucy Care

If you wish to support the letter, please fill in the form below:

We have also sent an accompanying letter to Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Ed Davey:

Dear Nick, Danny and Ed,

On June 4th, Parliament will vote on the Energy Bill. Your leadership on this legislation has ensured that the UK will make significant progress towards lower energy costs and a greener economy.

However, the Bill still falls short of providing the long-term certainty over energy policy that businesses need to drive green investment. MPs have an historic chance to deliver that certainty in the form of a decarbonisation target to be set by 2014. We are therefore writing to your non-Ministerial Liberal Democrat colleagues, encouraging them to support an amendment that would deliver a definitive target by 2014.

We understand that as Ministers, you have to stand by the Bill as negotiated with you Conservative Ministerial colleagues. We strongly feel that non-Ministerial Liberal Democrats should vote to deliver party policy, to reinforce the Coalition Agreement’s commitment to decarbonising the UK economy and to place the national interest ahead of party politics.

We hope you continue to lead the effort to make the UK economy greener and stronger – with a firm assurance to include a decarbonisation commitment before the Bill receives Royal Assent. You will have the party’s backing and that of the growing, innovative green technology sector in doing so.

Yours Sincerely,

Prateek Buch, Director
Gareth Epps and Naomi Smith, Council Co-Chairs
Martin Tod, Political Director
Simon P. Hughes, David Grace, Paula Keaveney, Linda Jack, Mathew Hulbert, Kelly-Marie Blundell, Robert Hutchison – Council members
Social Liberal Forum

Duncan Brack, Editor of the Green Book
Lucy Care

Supporting signatories, 04/06/13:

Mike Tuffrey, Chair London Liberal Democrats and Editor of the Green Book
Anthony Hawkes
Alaric Rose
Christina Shaw
Dave Eastham
Peter Lansdown
Jamie Clarke
Sarah Whitebread

Posted in SLF blog

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