David Cameron has dismissed claims that the UK government is backsliding on its green policies as “total and utter nonsense” while answering questions put forward by the Liaison Committee.
Huw Irranca-Davies was questioning the prime minister on the raft of clean energy policy announcements made over the last year and the subsequent criticism by figures such as former CBI chair John Cridland and Al Gore. In response to claims that his government had been criticised for “short-termism” and accused of creating uncertainty through its announcements, Cameron said: “I completely disagree. I couldn’t disagree more fundamentally with all of those people who say on the one hand Britain has helped to pioneer this climate change agreement and on the other hand is backsliding on its green commitments. It’s just total and utter nonsense.”
Davies cited 'Big Four' consultancy EY's downgrade of the UK in its list of worldwide locations within which to invest in renewables, to which Cameron claimed a body known as the International Green Group had placed the UK second in the world for renewables behind Denmark. He added that investment in solar would be double what it was in the last parliament and that low carbon investment would hit £11 billion. It is unclear if this includes nuclear research, which is where much of the UK government’s innovation and research spending is set to be spent.Cameron also said the country was “over-delivering” on its carbon budgets.
The PM also heralded the UK’s Green Investment Bank, the first in the world to invest and draw funds towards green infrastructure; although he did not provide an update on its sale to the private market, nor the recent move by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to repeal its mandate to invest only in green initiatives.
In other areas, Cameron expressed his wishes to see greater progress made in the UK, including renewable heat in homes, claiming “it’s less easy” compared to areas like energy generation where it was claimed the UK was “over-performing”.
On the issue of carbon capture and storage, a technology that was promised £1 billion pounds by the Conservative government that was then scrapped, Cameron restated his government’s long-held position and said: “While I completely believe in the idea, the economics at the moment really aren’t working.”