Decarb Complacency

Let’s not be swayed by quick-win language

In addition to the Euro-scepticism that has resulted from the recent elections I am also detecting a strong hint of complacency with regards to Decarbonisation , and ultimately sustainability of our planet.

In a recent Guardian article (see below) it appears that Energy UK, the trade association representing many of the big energy companies, have been lobbying hard to relax decarbonisation and renewable targets. Specifically the head of the group, Angela Knight, says it is time to move away from “an emotion driven and expensive [energy] agenda”.

This in itself is an interesting statement. Certainly cost issues are still a challenge to the successful growth in decarbonisation. The article refers to an Ernst and Young survey that says attractiveness of renewables to investors and developers in the Uk has tailed off over the last 18 months. Whilst, to some extent, this is true the report seems to confirm that much of this loss of faith has resulted from the uncertainty of the market. For example it points out that infrastructure support for renewables has been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the ‘Contracts for Difference’ pricing introduced under the Energy Market Reform.

However it tempers this by stating that technology costs are still coming down and providing plenty of incentives. It also states that other parts of the world are building frameworks that are much more supportive of low carbon energy production.

Therefore I am concerned that certain language is pointing to a dangerous ease off, playing on the populist agenda. In other words it’s a quick win to ease off on our de-carbonisation targets and announce an immediate cost reduction in energy. As we have seen above however cost does not have to be a long term problem.

I am also intrigued by Angela’s reference to an emotion driven agenda. Agreed, we should not be running around like headless chickens predicting the end of the world is nigh !. At the same time however the environmental facts that are out there should lead us to be emotional to some extent. Emotional enough to say that the one cost never too great to bear is the survival of a safer, sustainable, planet.


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