The Minister of State for Climate Change, Greg Barker has criticised the ‘environmental Taliban’ for what he believes are false accusations that the Government has repeatedly abandoned low-carbon ambitions and is reneging on its promise to be “the greenest Government ever.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, the Minister explained why he was fed up with “the environmental Taliban criticising ministers’ efforts to address legitimate industry concerns.”

Barker believes that measures such as the £3 billion Green Investment Bank, electricity market reform, a carbon price floor and the Green Deal should act as testament to the Government’s commitment to green policies.

The Minister admitted that he was shocked by the environmental lobby’s reaction to George Osborne’s autumn statement, which revealed a £250 million support package to help alleviate the impact of environmental policies on heavy electricity-consuming companies, a statement labelled a “polluters’ charter” by Greenpeace. 

The Minister also revealed the Department of Energy and Climate Change has adopted a new mantra in light of tough economic times: “Decarbonisation not de-industrialisation.”

Barker acknowledged that austerity measures have brought about a shift in focus in recent months, saying: “There is a change, and that is towards better value for money and greater financial rigour. We recognise that in tough times the green economy doesn’t fit in a silo on its own, as some in the green lobby seem to think it should. It’s entirely right we should be mindful of the impact on consumer bills.”

Critics will point to the Minister’s handling of the solar feed-in tariff, whose fast-track proposal to halve the tariff was declared “legally flawed” by the High Court, a decision which Barker is appealing against, despite a warning from the judge that an appeal has little chance of success.

Barker is adamant that the current level of subsidy for solar photovoltaic installations is jeopardising the whole feed-in tariff budget, and that delaying a cut in subsidy could threaten the whole scheme’s future. Barker, explained: “There is a finite budget here; the Chancellor put aside £867 million to come from a levy on peoples’ bills to pay for this, at the current unsustainable rate of 43 pence we are burning through that budget far too fast, putting the whole scheme in danger.”