With impeccable timing, a draft of the IPCC’s next report has been leaked just before Budget Day. The report warns of the floods, malnutrition, conflict and economic devastation that can be expected with our current weak response to climate change. A report that should focus the attention of any politician on how we can avoid these frightening predictions.
Not George Osborne, however. Our Chancellor today announced that the UK’s carbon price floor will be frozen, allowing coal plants – the most carbon polluting fuel – to keep running for longer. Yet again, the Treasury is prepared to jeopardise climate goals and undermine clean energy.
Just three months ago the government assured Parliament that a cap on emissions from coal plants was unnecessary, since coal would quickly become uneconomic. This measure was forced out of the Energy Bill, along with a crucial target to decarbonise electricity generation by 2030, which was widely supported by business and civil society. We, and many MPs and Lords, will now be asking how the government can justify giving these false assurances.
Driven by short-term politics, this government is failing to provide any certainty about our energy direction and climate commitments. It is also failing consumers. As the government sways back and forward on clean energy, investors delay, and consumer bills are driven up by this uncertainty.