Leading scientists agree that the accord signed in Paris at COP21 was a very helpful step towards a sustainable world, but confirm that we are still on track for a +3.5°C world under current policy – which would mean the melting of a huge amount of global ice, with catastrophic consequences for sea level rise.

Floods in York

Very damaging floods will become much more frequent in future; action to mitigate climate change will limit that damage

The likelihood of more frequent highly damaging floods, such as those that hit Scotland and north England recently, gives a stark imperative to move every political, industrial and societal lever in order to mitigate future changes in climate. The UK Government returned from Paris to announce swingeing cuts to some Feed-in-Tariffs, costing around 19,000 jobs and massively damaging a major growth engine of the green energy sector.

Some cuts were viewed as an improvement from the original proposals, with small and medium-scale wind projects being spared the worst possible outcome. The re-introduction of pre-accreditation for some technologies was also welcomed.

Installed wind capacity

The UK has a large wind market, but a very large population. On a per capita basis, its installed capacity is not impressive.

However the fact remains that the UK, blessed with one of the best wind resources in Europe, lags at 13th place for per-capita installed capacity in the EU. It is even worse for solar, sitting at 15th place.

Some commentators have been quick to point out that the ‘new’ subsidy for the solar industry, set to lose 19,000 jobs, is a tiny fraction of that set aside for new nuclear. Four years of subsidy for every new solar panel total the same as one month of subsidy for the proposed nuclear power plant at Hinkley. This torpedoes the ‘rationale’ of the Government to focus on the cost to bill-payers, as does the fact that the UK is the only country in the G7 which is increasing subsidies to the fossil fuel sector, from an already-eye-watering £27bn.

[bctt tweet=”If climate change is so damaging, why curtail our response?”]

Speaking about the seeming inconsistency between the UK Government rhetoric on the importance of climate change and the actions being taken on subsidy, David Clubb said:

“Our Ministers gave wonderfully powerful statements about climate change at COP21, and promptly returned to deliver very steep cuts in support to the renewable energy sector.

“We are delighted that some sectors were spared the very worst of the proposed cuts, but DECC’s own calculations show tens of thousands of jobs will be lost to save peanuts on the average energy bill.

“The return of pre-accreditation and a slight roll-back from the proposed harsh cuts has thrown a lifeline to some parts of the sector, but many will regard the cognitive dissonance displayed by the UK Government on climate change and renewable energy as hypocritical”