The commitment of the Big Six energy companies to tackling climate change has been called into question after it emerged that they have all quietly dropped their green electricity tariffs.
A day after The Independent revealed that British Gas and SSE use more coal to produce electricity now than they did ten years ago, it can now be disclosed that not a single one of Britain’s biggest suppliers – which together provide 90 per cent of UK household power – offers a renewable energy tariff.
The is despite the major suppliers making public commitments to tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
Will Hodson of consumer collective The Big Deal, which on Monday launched The Clean Energy Switch – a drive to persuade consumers to switch energy suppliers providing zero-carbon electricity with campaigning group 38 Degrees – said: “The Big Six’s abandonment of their green tariffs is an appalling abdication of responsibility.
“Profits are what matter to these companies, not people, and certainly not the planet. With climate change looming, this approach is completely unacceptable.”
Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace Policy Director, said: “The big utilities talk a good game on green credentials but when the going gets even a little bit tough, they drop their green tariffs and revert to type.”
The Big Six defended their decision to axe their 100 per cent renewable electricity tariffs - saying the decision had been forced upon them after the regulator Ofgem cut the number of tariffs they were allowed to offer to just four in 2013, in a bid to simplify the market.
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
In pictures: Changing climate around the world
Calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers are seen floating on the water in Qaqortoq, Greenland
Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers in the past decade. It shrinks mainly because of climate change, expanded irrigation for surrounding farms and the damming of rivers that feed the body of water
A boat navigates among calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers in Qaqortoq, Greenland. Boats are a crucial mode of transportation in the country that has few roads. As cities like Miami, New York and other vulnerable spots around the world strategize about how to respond to climate change, many Greenlanders simply do what theyve always done: adapt. 'Were used to change, said Greenlander Pilu Neilsen. 'We learn to adapt to whatever comes. If all the glaciers melt, well just get more land
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen after being inaugurated in Longyearbyen, Norway. The 'doomsday' seed vault built to protect millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters opened deep within an Arctic mountain in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
A technician preparing to drain a vast underground lake at the Tete Rousse glacier on the Mont Blanc Alpine mountain, to avert a potentially disatrous flood. Some 65,000 cubic metres (2.3 million cubic feet) of water have gathered in a cavity, dangerously raising the pressure beneath the mountain, a favourite spot for holiday makers in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
Cracked mud is picture at sunrise in the dried shores of Lake Gruyere affected by continuous drought near the western Switzerland village of Avry-devant-Pont. A leading climate scientist warned that Europe should take action over increasing drought and floods, stressing that some climate change trends were clear despite variations in predictions
Cattle graze on grassland that remains dry and brown at the height of the rainy season in south of Bakersfield, California. Its third straight year of unprecedented drought, California is experiencing its driest year on record, dating back 119 years, and dating back as far as 500 years, according to some scientists who study tree rings
An aerial view shows tents of flood-displaced people surrounded by water in southern Sehwan town. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres met with people displaced by last year's devastating floods. Catastrophic monsoon rains that swept through the country in 2010 and affected some 20 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes and damaged 5.4 million acres of arable land
An aerial view of flooding in North Wagga Wagga. Climate change is amplifying risks from drought, floods, storm and rising seas, threatening all countries but small island states, poor nations and arid regions in particular, UN experts warned
Damages caused by a landslide on the Pan-American highway near La Moramulca, 55 Km south of Tegucigalpa. International highways have been washed out, villages isolated and thousands of families have lost homes and crops in a region that the United Nations has classified as one of the most affected by climate change
A resident sprays water on a peatland fire in Pekanbaru district in Riau province on Indonesia's Sumatra island. Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands, is one of the world's biggest carbon emitters because of rampant deforestation. US Secretary of State John Kerry Sunday issued a clarion call for nations to do to more to combat climate change, calling it 'the world's largest weapon of mass destruction'
An excavator clearing a peatland forest area for a palm oil plantations in Trumon subdistrict, Aceh province, on Indonesia's Sumatra island. As Southeast Asia's largest economy grows rapidly, swathes of biodiverse forests across the archipelago of 17,000 islands have been cleared to make way for paper and palm oil plantations, as well as for mining and agriculture. The destruction has ravaged biodiversity, placing animals such as orangutans and Sumatran tigers in danger of extinction, while also leading to the release of vast amounts of climate change-causing carbon dioxide
Stagnant rain water with tannery waste make the Hazaribagh area in Old Dhaka as well as Buriganga River the most polluted. Each year during the seven-month long dry season between October and April the Buriganga River becomes totally stagnant with its upstream region drying up and becoming polluted from toxic waste from city industries
Waste water from Dhaka city drained to the River Buriganga contributes to its pollutions. On the World Water Day observed in 2007 under the theme Coping with Water Scarcity, under the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, DrikNEWS explores some of the images of the river. UN-Water has identified coping with water scarcity as part of the strategic issues and priorities requiring joint UN action. The theme highlights the significance of cooperation and importance of an integrated approach to water resource management of water at international, national and local levels
Heavy smog has been lingering in northern and eastern parts of China, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools. China's Environment Ministry said it will send inspection teams to provinces and cities most seriously affected by smog to ensure rules on fighting air pollution are being enforced
The firms also maintain that overall the energy they generate and sell is greener than it was ten years ago. And they argue that because green tariffs are more expensive than the typical fossil-fuel dominated ones, there is relatively little customer demand. .
An SSE spokesman said: “All energy companies including SSE are bound by Ofgem regulations to restrict the number of tariffs they offer to a maximum of four…SSE welcomes a measure that allows it to offer customers a wider choice of tariffs than it currently can.”
A spokesman for Npower added: “Npower’s green energy tariff….is an example of the kind of innovative tariff that has been lost due to regulation limiting the number of tariffs energy suppliers can offer. However, npower’s work to lower its environmental impact has not changed.”
A DECC spokesperson said: “This Government’s priority is to keep bills down for hardworking households and combat climate change in the most cost-effective way. Thanks to Government reforms there are now 29 energy suppliers in the market offering a range of options, including green tariffs, so consumers can find and switch easily to a deal that suits them.”