Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd has defended government decisions to scrap subsidy support for renewables a year earlier than planned, citing the need to tackle climate change in the “most cost-effective way”.
Rudd was delivering a speech to the ‘Climate Change: The Financial Implications’ conference organised by insurance giant Aviva, during which she stated climate change was “one of the greatest long-term economic risks” currently facing the UK.
“We are committed to taking action on climate change and we are clear that our long-term economic plan goes hand in hand with a long-term plan for climate action,” she said.
The Conservative government’s climate change credentials have been challenged this week after a slew of policy decisions were announced. In the space of two days the Department for Energy and Climate Change confirmed it intended to close the RO for sub-5MW solar projects a year early in April 2016, consult on cost-reductions measures for the feed-in tariff and close the Green Deal finance programme to new customers with immediate effect.
However Rudd sought to defend this week’s developments, stressing that the government has a duty to protect consumers and “keep bills as low as possible” while reducing emissions.
“To work for everyone – and to maintain support for climate action – decarbonisation has to be sensitive to the impact it has on people’s pockets, and wider economic circumstances.
“And that means we have to control public subsidies – taking tough decisions on what schemes and projects are supported,” she said.
But her comments this morning have not sat well with the renewables industry. Juliet Davenport, CEO at utility Good Energy, challenged the secretary’s sentiments that there was a direct need to target onshore wind and solar. “She’s [Rudd] also right to say that bills need to be affordable, so it makes no sense to be pulling the rug under innovative technologies which can deliver both lower bills and energy security in the long term,” Davenport added.
And the opposition Labour party’s shadow energy and climate change group took to Twitter to pour scorn over the Conservative’s claims to be committed to low-cost decarbonisation.
Government claim to be “committed to decarbonising at the least cost”. But onshore wind and solar are the two cheapest forms of clean energy
— Labour Energy (@labourenergy) July 24, 2015