UK: Gummer warns don’t dump green agenda
September 11th 2012
George Osborne’s attempt to backtrack on green policies by supporting a new ‘dash for gas’ ran into trouble after the incoming head of the government’s climate change committee said future economic growth would be impossible without more renewable energy. The comments from John Gummer, who has been chosen to chair the Independent Climate Change Committee, came amid growing signs that the chancellor is leading a headlong government retreat from David Cameron’s much-vaunted commitment to lead ‘the greenest government ever’. Suspicions were raised last week that the prime minister had accepted the need to downgrade green policies, which many Tory MPs see as too expensive in a recession, when he promoted climate sceptics in his reshuffle. He switched Owen Paterson, who has made clear that he is opposed to windfarms, to environment secretary, and made another green sceptic, John Hayes, energy minister.
Speaking to the Observer days before taking up his appointment at the head of a committee that includes many of the country’s top climate scientists, Gummer (now Lord Deben) said he was convinced that current government policy, which backs the increased use of renewable energy was the only way forward. ‘I think there can be no growth unless there is green growth,’ he said, stressing that population growth would put increasing pressure on finite resources such as gas, while renewable energy was a natural limitless resource. ‘If we want to grow in this world, we can only grow in a green way,’ said Gummer, a Tory environment secretary in the 1990s. ‘We led the way with the Climate Change Act. The current government started on its route with the Green Deal and other things. But let us not kid ourselves. Round the world other countries are seeing that this is the only future. The Chinese are moving fast. Even countries like South Africa, South Korea and Australia are doing so.’
While he would not be drawn into criticising individual ministers, he said anyone who believed gas would remain cheap was making a dangerous mistake. ‘You have actually got to go for renewables,’ he said. ‘The facts are absolutely clear. We have to go down the line we said we would, and we have to do it at the speed we said, because this is the most cost-effective speed. You don’t need to believe in climate change to want to do all these things. All you need to realise is the fact that soon we are going to be 9 billion people. Our resources are going to be constrained.’
Read the full article: The Guardian
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