What will Chris Huhne do next? Former cabinet minister 'set to reinvent himself as green campaigner' after prison

Huhne accuses the Treasury of undermining 'green growth' in a parting shot at the Chancellor

Chris Huhne, the former Energy and Climate Change Secretary, may devote himself to championing green issues when he seeks a career outside politics on his release from prison.

Friends said today that Mr Huhne, 58, has not made up his mind on what he will do next.  Some believe he may work on the environment and improving the world’s poorest countries.  Others think he may start a “green growth” business.

Mr Huhne and his former wife Vicky Pryce were both sentenced to eight months imprisonment on Monday for perverting the course of justice. The former Cabinet minister will need to earn a living when he is freed, friends believe.  Although his liability still has  to be settled by Southwark Crown Court, the Crown Prosecution Service is seeking £110,000 in costs from Mr Huhne, who will also have a huge lawyers’ bill after intending to fight the charge against him, only to change his mind last month  and plead guilty at the last minute.

Mr Huhne, who is thought to be planning to write a book while he is in prison, has admitted he will not return to politics and has spoken of seeking a “fourth career.”  He was a business and economics journalist before starting his own business as a  credit rating analyst and then entering politics as a Lib Dem MEP.

His strong commitment to the environmental agenda would give him credibility in that field. His last intervention in politics was to contribute two chapters to “The Green Book,” launched at the Liberal Democrats’ spring conference in Brighton last weekend and published on Thursday by Biteback Publishing.

The former minister clashed repeatedly with George Osborne when the Chancellor sought to dilute the Government’s green measures, warning that that it  should not saddle UK firms with higher costs by moving faster than their European competitors.

In a parting shot at Mr Osborne, Mr Huhne accused the Treasury of undermining “green growth” and the Coalition’s goal of being “the greenest government ever.” He wrote in the book: “In hard times, the worst thing  the green agenda can do is slink back , awaiting the return of growth.  We need, quite simply, to go green as quickly as we can.”

Mr Huhne added: “In theory, all three major British parties now share a cross-party consensus towards decarbonisation. However, the danger is that differences in enthusiasm between the Treasury and the Department of Energy and Climate Change have become exposed, and those mixed messages worry investors about staking their money on a low-carbon future.

“Investors abhor uncertainty, particularly in an area where government taxes or subsidies  are crucial in offsetting the failure of the market to take into account the impact of carbon emissions.”

The former Energy and Climate Change Secretary wrote: “Policy matters. Mood music counts. When green growth is so crucial, and is responsible for so much of the increased activity in the UK economy, ministers need to show a united front. The future is green….Either we will grow in a green way, or we will not grow at all.”

He went on: “The idea that growing and greening our economy are at odds, that we must plump for one or the other, is a classic false choice. In reality, as we invest to decarbonise our economy, we also grow it. Green investments — whether in resource efficiency or  substitution for polluting processes —- create jobs, raise incomes and prop up demand. They produce green growth.”

Mr Huhne said the “green market” in the UK is already worth estimated £122.2bn a year and expected to be £155bn next year.

In another chapter, “Going Green Has to be Fair,”  Mr Huhne questioned the Government’s decision to spend between £2bn and £3bn a year on winter fuel allowances for pensioners – including 60,000 who have retired to the Costa del Sol.  He hoped the Government would be braver about extending the Green Deal he pioneered, which allows householders to pay for energy-saving measures over a long period on their on their fuel bills.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent