Clean power is good for jobs, bills – and Earth

Share
Related Topics

In the next decade, a quarter of Britain's power supply will be switched off for good. This week MPs will vote on the Government's Energy Bill, which will determine what we replace it with. To tackle soaring energy bills, improve energy security and stop dangerous climate change, we must decarbonise the power sector by 2030.

For all the anti-renewables scare stories, investment in clean energy only accounts for a small fraction of consumers' bills. The biggest driver of soaring energy bills is rising global gas prices, predicted to increase even further, just when the cost of clean energy, such as solar panels and wind turbines, should fall. Breaking Britain's dependence on fossil fuels, cleaning up our power supply and investing in energy efficiency would lead to lower, not higher, bills.

As reserves in the North Sea have depleted, after decades of exporting energy Britain now relies on imports, leaving our energy security in the hands of other countries. If it can be extracted safely and sustainably, shale gas may help. But no one knows how much is recoverable or at what cost. New nuclear power will help create a more balanced, secure and low-carbon energy mix, too. But the best way of improving our energy security is to take advantage of the natural energy sources within our own country. This is the windiest country in Europe, and Britain really can rule the waves. But businesses will only invest in converting the sun, wind and waves into energy if they see the Government back decarbonisation.

We know that carbon dioxide is the principal man-made greenhouse gas responsible for the planet's rising temperature. In May, for the first time in history, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed the 400 parts per million threshold. Unless we reduce this figure, we face chaotic weather, rising sea levels, flooded homes, failing harvests and drought. If we can't decarbonise the power sector, we can't reduce the country's carbon footprint.

With the economy flat-lining, unemployment rising and living standards squeezed, climate change might not be everyone's top concern. But decarbonising power would yield huge economic benefits. New industries. New companies. New jobs. But as today's figures on page 2 show, under David Cameron, investment in vital new energy infrastructure has collapsed. A government committed to cleaning up our power would give businesses confidence to invest in vital new schemes such as carbon capture and storage.

To rebuild our power supply could cost £200bn. It is a once-in-a-generation challenge, but also opportunity, for Britain. Hull is the hardest place is the country to find a job, with 15,000 out of work. Siemens wants to build a new, £80m wind-turbine factory, creating thousands of jobs. But it won't until the Government commits to decarbonisation. For Hull's jobless, and thousands more like them around the country, this is a chance we cannot afford to miss.

Caroline Flint is Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Mr. Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe

Andrew Grice
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'