Onshore wind farm subsidies cut: Hope from the Pope, but not from the Tories

While the Pope talks of the chance to rebuild a better world, the Tories continues to promote energy policies better suited to the last century

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The Independent Online

It’s been a mixed week for those of us who care about protecting our environment and securing a decent future for generations to come.

On the one hand, we’ve had Pope Francis’s powerful encyclical on climate change urging governments to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy, and a huge rally at Westminster calling on politicians to do more to tackle climate change. At the same time, we’ve seen the Tory Government slash support for onshore wind and cement their backing for fracking.

There are aspects of the pope’s declaration I don’t agree with, but the main thrust of his argument is compelling. Crucially, he notes that climate change disproportionately affects the poor and that governments across the world have a duty to act for the lasting change we so desperately need. His message of hope, that “human beings are capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start”, is a powerful rallying call for world leaders as they prepare for crucial climate talks in Paris this year.

It’s particularly dispiriting to see such bad news on climate change here in Britain. On 16 June, an EU report revealed that the UK is set to miss a key target of producing 15 per cent of our energy from renewables by 2020 – in stark contrast to the majority of other EU countries who are on course to hit their targets.

A sensible reaction might have been for the Government to rethink its plans to cut support for onshore wind, but Energy Secretary Amber Rudd instead pledged to slash this key subsidy a year earlier than expected. 

Meanwhile, George Osborne couldn’t have been clearer when he said that Britain must “get on with” drilling for shale gas.

What ministers won’t admit is that phasing out fossil fuels and making a transition to clean, home-grown, renewable energy will benefit all of us – immediately and for years to come. 

The signals given out by the pope and our Government couldn’t have been more different: one talks of hope and the chance to rebuild a better world, the other continues to promote energy policies far better suited to the last century.

The writer is the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion

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