Re-energise Britain now

When the election was called, it released a wave of energy and hope after the months of suspense and uncertainty.

The polls also suggest an election result that’s good news for action on climate change.

The current government has been behaving disgracefully, whipping up division about “net zero” to appease its extremist fringe, blocking renewables and pandering to the fossil fuel lobby. The Committee on Climate Change, which was created in 2008 to hold the government to account, has been increasingly critical of the lack of action. The Chair and Chief Exec have both resigned and have not yet been replaced.

Although Labour got flack earlier this year for “ditching” the target to spend £28 Billion a year on its Green Prosperity Plan, the revised plan still looks seriously impressive.  In my opinion, it’s a grown up approach to tackling the massive challenges and opportunities ahead of us, as we decarbonise our economy and start to reverse the decline of our natural environment.

Part of it is about setting up “Great British Energy, a publicly-owned clean power company, to cut bills for good and boost energy security, paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants”.  Alongside this is a serious strategy to “rewire Britain”, with new wind, solar, tidal and nuclear power, and a power grid and planning system upgraded to cope. I was also pleased to see there’s a programme to improve insulation in our cold and draughty homes.

This is good, and all stuff we should have been doing years ago.

My only criticism is that it barely mentions the importance of including storage within the power grid. As the think tank, Rethinx, points out, by optimising the mix of solar power, wind and batteries in the power system, you can reduce the overall cost and have a “huge surplus in electricity generation produced at zero marginal costs for most of the year” This will be transformational.

Looking at the other parties, it’s good to see that the Lib Dems are also pledging to “invest significantly” in renewable power.

At the time of writing, the Greens didn’t seem to have a published manifesto, but in a statement after the election announcement, they were unsurprisingly in favour of “warmer homes and cleaner rivers”.  They did well in the recent local elections, with some voters wanting to demonstrate their concern about climate change, while others were simply pro-nature, anti-development. Unfortunately, this diversity has led to some surprising results, for example, green councillors opposing solar farms, despite the party “in principle” supporting them.

However, the time for symbolic gestures is past.

On July 4th we have the opportunity to elect a government that will be serious about addressing climate change.

We mustn’t waste it.

Anne Miller