- 04 June 2010
- Congratulations on becoming the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change. It is widely recognised that radical low carbon transformation of the economy rather than incremental change can deliver new jobs, investment and export opportunities while maintaining the UK’s leadership on the international stage. How confident are you that the new coalition government can deliver the change the country needs?
From the top down there’s a recognition that tackling climate change and the low carbon transition is an urgent task. It isn’t, and can’t be, an add-on for this Government.
When Prime Minister David Cameron visited DECC during his very first week in office, he said he wanted this to be the greenest Government ever. And Chris Huhne and I share that passion.
However, business and industry need certainty, and from a Government that will deliver – not just warm words and pledges. That’s why we’ve clearly set out in the Coalition’s Programme of Government, our plans for action on energy and climate change. The Energy Bill in the Queen’s Speech included our radical proposals to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses, promote low carbon energy production and to secure energy supplies in the UK.
- What role do you see business playing in helping drive the policy changes for the new government?
Britain’s businesses are absolutely central to building the low carbon economy. It’s not Government that’s the driver of growth and innovation, it’s the private sector. After years of prevarication, urgent action is needed to boost enterprise, support green growth and build a new and more resilient economy.
The Climate Group, in particular, has played an important role in promoting and explaining the benefits of low carbon transition, and I’m looking forward to working with the Group as the work of delivery gets underway.
- Public finance is needed to prime the pump of a low carbon economy. What are the specific areas that the Green Investment Bank will provide funding for?
We want a new Green Investment Bank (GIB) to bring greater strategic focus to public sector investment and help improve the availability of finance to support the growth of the new economy. Bob Wigley and his independent commission are working on a range of proposals of how a GIB might do that but in a way that is consistent with our determination to reduce the fiscal deficit. This is a priority for us, so I hope that the Wigley GIB Commission will publish their proposals for Government to consider before the Summer Recess.
- Are there other financial mechanisms you plan to implement to support the take up of low carbon technologies that will enable the UK to meet its emissions reduction targets?
The new administration has made a strong commitment to our new ‘Green Deal’. This groundbreaking legislation will allow us to offer consumers the ability to install energy efficiency measures in their homes without any upfront payments. The cost would be paid back over time through savings on energy bills, but in a way that always stays on the bill of the property and doesn’t become a personal debt
- The Climate Group is pleased to see the creation of a levy to support CCS in the recent Energy Act, and renewed commitment to CCS in the latest coalition government programme of work. The next steps are also important, so are the EU call for tender for projects under the EU ETS NER and the UK consultation on the CCS levy on track to be launched in June?
CCS is a pivotal technology to mitigating climate change and maintaining secure energy supplies. We also believe the UK has the genuine potential to become a global leader in this vital new industry. We are, therefore, committed to an ambitious UK CCS demonstration programme, and plan to launch a call for proposals for projects 2-4 by the end of the year. We will be introducing secondary legislation for implementation of the levy which will be in place to support the first project as soon as possible.
We understand that the EU plans to issue a call for proposals in the summer, and the EU selection process is likely to run parallel with our domestic process.
- What are your hopes and expectations for the international climate change negotiations in 2010? What role will the UK play?
It certainly won’t be easy but that’s no reason for the UK not to push at every opportunity and use every influence it has to get a global deal to tackle climate change. It’s definitely a goal that I am personally committed to.
A global deal is vital to protect our planet, but it will also provide a global framework to promote low carbon business opportunities. It would be a huge mistake to interpret the cautious attitude that many large economies have towards a legally binding global deal as a lack of interest in low carbon transformation and a drive towards an energy economy that no longer relies on finite reserves of fossil fuels. I want Britain to be at the forefront of the new energy revolution, and the coalition shares that goal.
Conservative MP Greg Barker has joined David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Government as Minister of State for Climate Change. Greg will be working with Lib Dem Secretary of State Chris Huhne in the historic new coalition government, the first for 65 years.
Greg is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bexhill and Battle, in his native Sussex. He supports many local groups and charities and is also a GLOBE International Commissioner on Climate and Energy Security, Vice Chair of APPG Environment Group and member of the UK Green Fiscal Commission.