UK Prime Minister David Cameron made the case for clean energy in his address to delegates from 23 leading economies at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in London today.
“Renewables are now the fastest growing energy source on the planet… Britain has gone from virtually no capacity for renewables, to seeing them provide almost 10% of our total electricity needs last year. And we’ve added more capacity for renewables in the last two years than at any time in the last decade,” he said.
The Prime Minister added that now the government’s “commitment and investment” has made renewable energy possible, the challenge is to make it financially sustainable.
His statement focused on how governments and business can work together to drive down costs, as well as the importance of a carbon floor price and enhanced international trading.
But the comments have been criticised by environmental campaigners, who were hoping for a more ambitious call to arms.
“This falls a long way short of the green speech David Cameron should have given – tipping his hat to the need for a cleaner future and recycling a few announcements just won’t measure up,” says Friends of the Earth’s executive director Andy Atkins.
According to figures published by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) this week, the renewables sector is growing at a rate of up to 11% in recent years compared with the overall UK growth rate of 1.4%.
And according to other estimates, the UK’s green economy sector is growing steadily at 4% a year, contributing significantly to GDP and supporting around 900,000 jobs.
“Today’s speech by the Prime Minister could have been a clear message that the UK is open for green business. It should have sent a clear signal to investors. Especially after two years of Prime-Ministerial silence. It did not,” says Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group.
“Instead it effectively reiterated the false dichotomy between ‘non-affordable’ renewables and ‘affordable’ fossil fuels, in effect cementing the government’s clear preference for the latter,” he goes on. “This is more than a missed opportunity. It is not only a failure of leadership. It is nothing short of neglect of Britain’s economy and future.”
The REA also points out that globally fossil fuels receive six times the subsidy that renewables receive, with UK subsidies for fossil fuels at an estimated £3.6 billion, mostly in the form of tax breaks.
“Renewables have extremely low running costs, but capital costs can be higher than other energy technologies. For that reason it is essential that the cost of financing is kept low. Stable policies build investor confidence and make projects more bankable. The ball is in the government’s court to make that happen,” says chief executive Gaynor Hartnell.
Even the Institution of Civil Engineers’ (ICE) director general Nick Baveystock urges the Prime Minister to “urgently move out of the rhetoric” and take action to give industry and the public certainty.
“The Prime Minister has heralded the UK as best placed in the world for green energy, however in reality we’re far from capitalising on this opportunity,” he says. “Tackling the remaining barriers to developing and upscaling renewable energy sources is crucial… the longer we delay, the fewer and less attractive the options.”
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Article source: http://www.energyefficiencynews.com/i/5054/