Editorial: All power to the Energy Secretary

 

Share

That the Chancellor is not wholly committed to the Prime Minister's erstwhile promise of "the greenest government ever" has long been supposed. Now, undercover footage shows two notably anti-green Tories – one of them George Osborne's father-in-law – claiming that the Chancellor is actively manoeuvring to ensure environmental concerns take a back seat.

Allowances must be made for wishful thinking. But, taken together with the appointments of the wind farm opponent John Hayes as Energy minister and climate change sceptic Owen Paterson as Environment Secretary, and with Mr Osborne's own dismissive allusions to the "environmental Taliban", the words of Lord Howell and Peter Lilley ring sadly true.

Pity Ed Davey, then. The Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary not only has Mr Hayes to contend with. He is also wrestling with legislation that will radically reshape Britain's energy sector. With a fifth of power-generating capacity to be turned off within 10 years, and £110bn more needed to keep the lights on, it could not be more important to get the details right. But Mr Davey and Mr Osborne cannot agree.

The Energy Secretary wants the Bill to commit Britain to entirely carbon-free electricity by 2030. Without such a pledge, he says, the necessary investment in newer, greener technologies will not be made. The Chancellor is not only wary of a fixed target; he is also a firm believer in shale gas, and wants a higher proportion of cheaper, gas-fired power stations to keep down customer bills.

Mr Osborne's popularity with the anti-wind-farm lobby is, therefore, understandable. But he is still wrong. Even leaving aside questions about the practicalities of shale gas, his plan would make little real difference to bills in the short term. And in the long term, we would still need zero-carbon alternatives.

Energy policy is rarely easy. Faced with opposition from the Chancellor, Mr Davey's challenge is trickier than ever. It is in Britain's interests that he wins the battle.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Dom Joly owns a pig. That thinks it's a dog.  

I'll bow out. Let Wilbur, the pig that thinks it's a dog, bring home the bacon

Dom Joly
 

Forget charging by the page - with books, heart matters more than heft

Katy Guest
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'