I am all in favour of saving energy, of promoting fuel efficiency, saving the greenfields and the best heritage of England. Much of the green agenda is popular. Many are happy to recyle, to insulate, to buy more fuel efficient vehicles when money permits. No-one wants to see the Green Belt concreted over or the ANOB sprout an industrial estate.
What is more contentious is a green agenda built around cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The government embarked on several talismanic policies to promote this form of greenery. Several are now experiencing some difficulty.
The idea that London does not need any more airport capacity has come up against a concerted business lobby saying the UK needs more flights to emerging market centres if the UK is compete with Frankfort and Paris, New York and Los Angeles. The Mayor of London advocates a whole new London airport to the east of the capital. Others want more runway capacity at Heathwick, with a better link between the two main London airports.Exporting the airlinks abroad does not cut oevrall carbon dioxide emissions.
The proposal for a High Speed train from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds is encountering strong opposition. Some think it is too dear and will be too heavily subsidised. Some doubt the need for it. Some dislike the impact it will have on the countryside where the track would be placed. It is by no means clear that such long distance fast trains do save carbon dioxide when you add in the car and taxi rides to get to the stations.
The idea that the Uk will pioneer high cost carbon capture technology for power generation has just been hit by the cancellation of the Longannet proposal. Business wants cheaper energy. Carbon capture is both untried and expensive.
Some renewable power has been delayed by Mr Huhne’s indecision over renewable subsidies. There are rumours that he is going to have to cut back on the generous regimes made available to encourage solar and wind energy.
This autumn there is a public backlash against dear energy. All three main political parties, who have been united behind the carbon dioxide agenda, are saying the answer to higher prices lies in more competition and shopping around. I am all in favour of more competition.It is the best means to stop unacceptable profit margins. However, the energy companies do need to make some profits, so they have the money to invest in the large amount of new energy plant this country badly needs. If the investment is to be in carbon capture and storage and in certain renewables it will be much bigger than conventional power generation. This will require bigger profits and higher bills for longer to pay for the investment.
Carbon dioxide policies are now adding nearly 10% to the total cost of typical bills. This is going to get bigger if current policies continue. Energy is now hot politics. People want a break from high and rising bills.
The BBC climate change show this morning told us there is a new independent scientific study which proves the world’s land surface is now 1 degree hotter than in 1950. They jumped from this to imply that therefore the global warming powers of carbon dioxide have been proven. We need to know if the temperature increase was consistent , correlated with the build up of carbon dioxide. We need to know what other explanations for the warming they have examined and rejected. I think from what the BBC said the paper does not go into causes . If it did not the BBC should say so, instead of implying that this is the long awaited proof after the East Anglia problem. The only genuflection to sceptics was the statement that there remains an argument about whether to tackle carbon dioxide now or to leave it until the world economy has grown more.