Ahead of the Paris Climate talks, taking place between November 30 to December 11, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has criticised the government for the gap between Britain’s 2020 target and its current share of renewable energy – the biggest in the European Union.
During this week’s Prime Minister Questions, Mr Corbyn also highlighted energy secretary Amber Rudd’s claim that Britain is likely to miss its target of getting 15% of our energy from renewables by 2020.
The UK still relies on fossil fuels for 69% of its electricity fuel mix
Source: World Energy Council 2015
This week, 55 labour councils made a commitment for their areas to run entirely on green energy by 2050. Mr Corbyn asked the Prime Minister David Cameron if he would call on all Conservative councils to do the same.
The PM replied: “I certainly commend all councils for wanting to promote green energy, and we have made that easier in our country by having the feed-in tariffs and the other measures, particularly solar power and wind power.”
In the next five years, Mr Cameron said the government will also be spending $9 billion on helping other countries to go green, which he said will be crucial in building the Paris deal next week.
Mr Corbyn disagreed with the PM’s commitment to green energy and highlighted the Government’s recent decisions which include cutting support for solar panels on home and industrial projects, scrapping the green deal, cutting support for wind turbines, putting a new tax on renewable energy and increasing subsidy for diesel generators.
Defending his actions, the PM said reducing the subsidies for solar panels was due to the cost of manufacturing plummeting. “If we do not reduce the subsidy, we ask people to pay higher energy bills,” Mr Cameron added.
In the past few weeks, however, Mr Corbyn said 1,000 jobs have been lost in solar companies in Britain as they have gone bust.
Putting forward a question from apprentice solar fitters at Banister House, Mr Corbyn asked the PM why the government wanted to throw away solar projects needed to help the environment and provide jobs.
“We are doubling investment in renewable energy in this Parliament,” the PM replied. “As for solar panels, I think I am right in saying that in the previous Parliament over one million homes were fitted with solar panels. It is right that we go on supporting that industry, but we should do it recognising that the cost of manufacturing solar panels has plummeted.”
The World Energy Council recently reduced Britain to an AAB rating this year, from AAA in 2014, in its annual “energy trilemma index”. The index ranks countries in terms of their likely ability to provide sustainable energy policies through energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability.