Era of cheap energy 'will never return'
The era of cheap energy is over and will never return as Britain pays the price of turning into a low-carbon economy, the former chairman of the Environment Agency has warned. Sir John Harman accuses politicians of failing to be honest with people about the costs of developing and delivering new forms of clean energy.
And he calls for measures to combat fuel poverty, through price controls, subsidies or higher state benefits to prevent the creation of a new class of low-carbon poor.
In a hard-hitting Fabian Society pamphlet to be published this month, Sir John accuses politicians of failing to match their rhetoric on green issues with action, saying they are "badly out of touch with the reality". In The Green Crunch, he writes: "It is extremely unlikely that we will ever get back to the retail energy prices of the past 15 years or so. Yet I do not think that this fact is being squarely presented to the electorate nor would it be an obvious vote-winner to do so.
"We need to acknowledge that there is, in a civilised society, a right to expect affordable access to warmth, light, and the other benefits which energy delivers and that this can only be protected as prices rise by intervention, either in the energy markets or through the welfare system."
He points to Gordon Brown's reluctance to bring in the green taxes he promised as Chancellor in 1997. But he argues that Labour can learn lessons from Barack Obama's victory in a "gas-addicted" United States and is the natural party to meet the environmental challenge.
Sir John, a former Labour council leader who chaired the Environment Agency for eight years until last summer, urges politicians to be more honest with people about the threat from climate change, saying that the environment should be regarded as just as important as economic and social issues. His call comes as green groups fear the environment is falling down the politicians' list of priorities because of the recession.
Disappearing world: Global warming claims tropical island
Survival stories: When animals attack (and humans survive)
Plastic rubbish heaps at sea pose bigger threat to Earth than climate change, claims ocean expert
Silence to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of last ever passenger pigeon
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: SEN Jobs Available Devon
£600 - £900 per day: Harrington Starr: Infrastructure Lead, (Trading infrastru...
£20000 - £21000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Software Solutio...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Supply teachers needed for va...