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Debut Speech Creates Climate of Worry

31 July 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

BSRIA has expressed its concern over the new Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change’s debut speech.

Along with a number of organisations and trade associations, the Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) has added its worry over statements made by Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, in her first major speech since the General Election in May.

The concern is especially those centering on the ending of and reliance on subsidies for energy saving schemes. “More and more, BSRIA is getting the impression that energy and carbon reduction issues are being viewed as a burden to government which is inhibiting, not only the industry but the economy at large,” said Julia Evans, CEO, BSRIA. “The Minister’s speech* is arguing that the removal of subsidy will strengthen the economy and a strong economy will respond to the carbon agenda. But the issue is clearly the lack of stability in subsidy and without such stability industry can’t plan for a ‘green future’.”

Ms Evans noted that in recent weeks, the government has scrapped subsidies for onshore wind and commercial solar power, the two cheapest forms of clean energy, slashed the energy efficiency budget, lowered taxes on polluting firms and introduced a tax on clean energy. The Green Deal Finance Company funding ending was, she believed, yet another example of this, along with energy saving materials being singled out as no longer qualifying for reduced-rate VAT. “Nothing in the Secretary of State’s speech enables me to see a direction of travel which gives me confidence that the government is taking the carbon reduction agenda seriously,” stated a pessimistic Ms Evans. “Financial losses, economy security and economic risk were repeated throughout the speech, along with the commitment that government has a duty to protect consumers and keep bills as low as possible, while they reduce emissions. Amber Rudd ended by saying that tackling climate change makes ‘cold hard economic sense’. But what of the consequences? And who pays?”

Ms Evans went on to complain that Secretary of State Rudd had said that “all this pro-growth, pro-business climate is now bearing fruit. What fruit exactly? And how? More specifically how is this helping carbon reduction and energy efficiency?”


Mixed messages

BSRIA argues that the Cameron government is sending out mixed messages on carbon reduction policies.

It believed that such recent sudden changes to low carbon policies have created mass uncertainty for the industry and investors. “Government has swept it all away without signalling its precise intent in its manifesto,” declared Ms Evans. “Government policies will not lead to the low carbon society it claims it wants – it is destroying the UK renewables industry just at the point where it's almost competitive.”

Ms Evans complained that it seemed as though government wanted industry to take it upon itself to reduce energy consumption by creating confidence in the market for investors to become active in renewable and new technologies. However, the government needed to take the lead and give industry a steer first.

As things now stood, the industry would question how it was supposed to meet its carbon emission targets. It appeared that government policies lately had veered to a move away from renewable technology. That the Green Deal failed, said Ms Evans had come as no surprise, but it seemed “reckless to be relying on no policy at all to deliver this important agenda”.

*Secretary of State Amber Rudd’s speech was given to the Aviva conference, entitled Climate Change: The Financial Implications.

Picture:   Secretary of State, Amber Rudd has not only given out “mixed messages” but according to BSRIA, killed off many of its ‘green’ policies, including the Green Deal.

Article written by Mike Gannon | Published 31 July 2015


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