Ed Davey has warned that Tory ‘Tea Party tendency’ is putting green energy jobs at risk, according to The Guardian.
Liberal Democrat energy secretary fears rightwingers are putting billions of pounds of investment in jeopardy by creating uncertainty about government policy
Tens of billions of pounds of investment in low-carbon, job-creating energy infrastructure projects that are “ready to go” could be lost to Britain because of an anti-green movement that is sweeping through the Tory party, the Liberal Democrat energy secretary warns.
In an interview with the Observer, Mr Davey describes a “Tea Party tendency” among Conservative MPs who question climate change and green investment as “perverse”, and says it is creating deep uncertainty for an industry that could do much to help lift the country out of the economic doldrums.
He says he has confidence in chancellor George Osborne to continue backing the green agenda, even if some of those around him are urging him to take a different course.
Over recent months the Tory party, including David Cameron and Mr Osborne, has appeared to dilute its enthusiasm for green policies that defined its supposed “modernisation” drive in the runup to the 2010 general election.
Mr Osborne is said to have formed the view that green policies such as investment in windfarms and solar power are too costly at a time of recession.
He is understood to have been swayed by arguments put forward by the former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson, a climate change sceptic.
Mr Davey says, however, that there are huge opportunities for the British economy from investment in low-carbon energy infrastructure projects, including wind and solar energy, carbon capture storage and new nuclear power, all of which make up a large part of projected spending of £118bn in the sector over the next decade.
Last year alone £12.7bn was invested in this country by the renewable energy industry, creating 20,000 jobs.
Mr Davey says he fears these opportunities will be lost if the pre-election consensus on climate change and green policies continues to be questioned.
Describing the arguments of the Tory right as perverse, Mr Davey said he could not believe so many Conservatives failed to see the economic benefits of investment in green infrastructure, much of which would be from the private sector and so off the government’s books.
He also made it clear that he was in favour of introducing a legal goal to decarbonise the power sector by 2030 – something also opposed by Mr Osborne – although he said he believed this could be done through secondary legislation and with less stringent conditions than were being proposed by many of the green groups.