The UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate has announced Britain’s Climate Change Act will be protected and climate change is still a top priority for the nation despite the results of last week’s EU referendum. Amber Rudd was speaking at the Business and Climate Summit in London today, and revealed her vision for Britain’s energy and climate plan after Brexit. Greenpeace has reacted to the speech.
Amber Rudd outlined that the government has prioritised security of supply and plans to continue to encourage investment in offshore wind, new nuclear, including small modular reactors. She only mentioned Hinkley Point nuclear power station when directly asked, and said that we could expect a final investment decision ‘very soon’.
At the same time, Andrea Leadsom, Energy Minister, appeared in front of the Energy and Climate Committee hearing on investor confidence. She also reiterated the government’s commitment to the Climate Change Act and stated that the government’s commitment to tackling climate change and solving the energy trilemma of energy security, low cost and low carbon energy remains as strong as before Brexit.
Both were strident on the fact they were doing their best on keeping prices down for bill payers, and that renewables needed to stand on their own two feet which explained the slowdown in investment for renewables. But Leadsom maintained that Brexit would have little impact on investor confidence, despite the news from Siemens this morning announced that further investment from the German multinational would be on hold until the terms of Brexit are clearer.
Both said that the government’s energy plan of offshore wind, new nuclear and gas would remain the big players in delivering the UK’s energy. Rudd added small modular nuclear reactors to the mix, touted as a new technology despite being found to be too expensive in the 1980s and decades away from any delivery.
John Sauven, Greenpeace director said: “In a head to head between Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom, there was much needed reassurance from both Ministers that there is still a full commitment to the Climate Change Act and UK global leadership on tackling climate change. Both wanted to reassure investors that the UK is open for green business and that the government’s path remains the same. But soothing words are not good enough. Green investor confidence in the UK was shaky before Brexit because of the government’s ever changing and incoherent policies, which neither minister seem willing to get to grips with even now.
“Both ministers are willing to reassure Chinese and French investors in Hinkley and other new nuclear power stations but renewables businesses are simply not receiving a fraction of the political or financial support as EDF and the Chinese state-owned companies. If the government intends to cut such a sweet deal for other new nuclear investors, there will be little cash left for any other renewable technologies and bills are likely to rise in the future.”
“We look forward to seeing the announcement of the fifth carbon budget tomorrow which we hope will continue to set Britain on pathway of renowned international leadership on tackling climate change. But more must be done to provide vital support for innovative new renewable technologies, and send a clear sign to the market at this uncertain time. As without sustained support for renewable energy, ambitious improvements in energy efficiency, renewable heat and low carbon transport, these commitments risk not being worth the paper they are written on.”