The Conservative party have begun stripping away at the UK’s green energy policy. But when the bandages are peeled away, the underneath is more disturbing than what was there before.
The party that supposedly supports businesses is doing a damn good job of disincentivising initiatives to establish and invest in renewable energy systems.
The Tories are once again increasing the reliance on unstable and unsustainable energy sources whilst persuading people that saving 50p on energy bills is worth compromising our grandchildren’s futures for.
Halting subsidies for renewables in an economy that needs to be weaned off of fossil fuels is like operating blindfolded; a hugely unnecessary risk, with potentially life threatening consequences.
Lets begin with transport. The current system of road tax means that anyone purchasing a new car pays a different rate for the first year based on how polluting the car is, a system which continues every year thereafter, ranging from free for electric cars to £505 for the dirtiest. The result? Incentivising people to buy environmentally friendly cars.
But from 2017, after the first year, all cars will pay the same £140 annual fee, so a Porsche will be taxed the same as a Prius.
Ministers have also targeted subsidies up to 87% by January 2016 for solar installations. Any that produce less than five megawatts (enough to power 2,500 homes) are to be axed in the closure of the renewable obligation (RO) subsidy by April 2016. 90% of Germany’s solar energy comes from rooftop panels.In 2014, 50% of all energy demand was met with solar energy, meanwhile in the US, only a megre 0.2% was. We shouldn’t let the UK join them.
Slashing the feed-in tariff would eliminate the chances of roof-top solar panels achieving their full potential with the support of the state in a ridiculously superficial attempt at saving money and killing a growing industry in the process.
Even China, who are the world’s most rapidly industrialising country, invested the most in renewables last year.
So why all this slashing and cutting? Apparently it’s all in aid of reparations towards securing a struggling public sphere that is strapped with rising energy bills. Go figure.
Then there’s the fracking shambles to help bring energy production back into the UK. Pumping fluids and sand into underground rock to release oil and natural gas impacts horrifically upon ecosystems and communities alike, just look at Alaska.
Admittedly, the practice does use a tenth of the water necessary to extract oil than more conventional methods and natural gas does produce slightly less greenhouse gases than burning crude oil but the counter arguments prove more sufficient at dismissing fracking as a feasible bridge gap solution to non-renewables.
Fracking still encourages the burning of fossil fuels and leakage of methane from bedrock, which in addition to being a potential safety hazard, is also a potent greenhouse gas that exacerbates climate change. As industry and energy are the two biggest worldwide contributors to climate change, the allowed continuation by the UK government whose overall energy consumption is comprised of 82% fossil fuels is extremely worrying.
There is an increased threat of fracking in the UK, especially in the Midlands and North West where exclusive rights have been given to 23 firms. But they will meet resistance, like in August this year, Lancashire County Council refused permission for Cuadrilla to frack at two sites because of local pressure against it, similar to the Balcombe protests in 2013.
We cannot afford to compromise this late in the game, and we certainly cannot sacrifice the health of communities affected by fracking industries like in Pennsylvania where water in some people’s homes was made flammable due to methane content. Furthermore, it threatens the longevity of ecosystems and encourages the burning of fossil fuels.
At the end of the day, all that fracking can be is a fad as its not a sustainable option, despite what British government would have you believe. And the UK definitely won’t help keep global temperatures below the 2 degree celsius benchmark the IPCC stipulated to avoid significant and irreversible damages to the world and its inhabitants.
Maybe a recent announcement can bring hope for alternatives sources of energy in the UK. Multifuel Energy Limited wants to construct the Ferrybridge Multifuel 2 Power Station at Knottingley in West Yorkshire to provide electricity and jobs. The government have given it the green light. It will combust waste of both an industrial, commercial and household nature that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. This is a positive move by the government but burning stuff is still not a long term answer to the larger scale issue of waste.
But that’s for another day.
Tony Juniper, the author of the book What has nature done for us? claims that “the last few months mark the worst period for environmental policy that I have seen in my 30 years’ work in this field.”
Furthermore, the leaders of organisations like National Trust, Greenpeace and the RSPB have expressed shock and worry at the changes and claimed that the Conservative government’s behaviour is deeply saddening with regards to nature and climate change.
What we need is less fracking and more transparency about governmental role in supporting innovative strategies to find solutions.
All the while governments increase reliability to the national grid, it removes people’s ability to be self-reliant and this can be applied to ‘developing’ countries too as the best way to secure energy supply in isolated areas is to provide the infrastructure to be self-sustaining with a free renewable energy source they can make use of.
As we head towards the COP21 meeting in Paris in December this year we must first take responsibility for our own country’s contributions to a global problem.
Admittedly, China and India progressively industrialising in an environmentally friendly may not be possible, but it’s our own government’s responsibility to be a leader on the path towards a greener more positive, stable future. A the end of the day, they are there to provide for their people, not themselves.
And that means starting with renewables, not shoving them under the carpet or worse; mutilating them. Renewables symbolises the return of power to the people and not big business.
The government of not just the UK but other developed countries too must realise the part they play within an international community of people dependent on their proactiveness to make a global impact. Otherwise, there will be stormy times ahead.