Churches put Government's green credentials on trial

Four major British Churches have warned that the Government's draft Energy Bill would set the UK up for failure on carbon targets. 

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the Quakers in Britain and the United Reformed Church have warned that, in its current form, the Bill undermines the Government's commitment to meet the UK's carbon targets. They say that more green jobs could be created by a stronger commitment to sustainable, secure and affordable renewable energy.  

The draft Bill will encourage the building of more coal and gas-fired power stations and would allow high levels of carbon emissions from power stations until 2045. The Committee on Climate Change has advised the Government that the power sector must be substantially decarbonised by 2030 in order to achieve the UK's carbon targets. 

"This Bill has far-reaching implications and puts the Government's green credentials on trial," said the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, speaking on behalf of the Churches. "The Government's verbal commitments on climate change are undermined by the proposals in the draft Bill. It will encourage a new dash for gas, could allow new investment in coal and sets the UK up for failure on its carbon targets." 

The Churches' warning follows correspondence between senior leaders of the four denominations and Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Mr Davey outlined opportunities for new coal and gas power stations. The Committee on Climate Change has stated that these plans are likely to cause Britain to fail in future carbon budgets.

A study conducted by the WWF-UK (World Wide Fund for Nature) shows that the UK could achieve at least 60 per cent of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030. The Churches are calling on all political parties to make a clearer commitment to renewable energy. The Churches point out that further significant growth in the renewables sector will require greater certainty on investment returns. They want to see the Committee on Climate Change's recommendation of a 2030 decarbonisation target incorporated into the Bill.

"A renewables-based energy system is realistic and achievable," continued Dr Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference. "But the draft Bill lacks the ambition needed to generate green jobs in the renewable energy sector.  As Christians we believe that we are all called to protect and sustain our planet and eco-system for future generations."

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