Christian group challenges Energy Bill

Exactly four years ago, campaigners were thrilled when theClimate Change Act was made law on Nov 26th 2008. The UK became the first country to set out legally binding and farreaching targets to reduce carbon emission by 2050. The Labourgovernment was proud to show international leadership in tacklingconcerns over climate change. Cameron campaigned in 2010 tocontinue such leadership, stating that his would be "the greenestgovernment ever".

Two years is a long time in politics. The current headlines justannounced for the next Energy Bill to be released this weekindicate that it ignores a key provision of the Climate Change Act- to intentionally reduce emissions by 2020 and beyond. Thecoalition government simply says that defining a comprehensiveenergy strategy post 2020 will be up to the next government in2016.

The vision of Operation Noah is for a complete decarbonisationof the UK economy by 2030 through various measures includingreducing energy demand and substantial investment in clean energy.To achieve this, we must start now. By 2016 it may well be toolate. Ignoring this issue now goes against both the advice of thegovernment's own independent advisory body, the Committee onClimate Change and the International Energy Agency (which says thatemissions need to peak at 2016 to keep below 2 degrees, and be cutrapidly every year after that).

 Operation Noah believes that avoiding our duty tosubstantially reduce emissions is immoral. It shirks ourresponsibilities both to those suffering as a consequence ofclimate change now and to future generations. Around the worldexceptional weather conditions continue to be experienced,including this week's UK weather and flooding. The World Bank'sreport, 'Turn down the heat', published last week, notes that"present emission trends put the world plausibly on a path toward4oC warming within the century…. A 4oC worldis likely to be one in which communities, cities and countrieswould experience severe disruptions, damage and dislocation, withmany of these risks spread unequally".

 Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth, whodelivered Operation Noah's annual lecture on 21stNovember on the theme 'Overcoming fossil fuel addiction - the nextmoral revolution?' said that "human suffering now [as a consequenceof climate change] and the certainty that this will increase in thefuture makes this a moral issue. We are breaking our contract withthe future if we don't act now".

 Operation Noah welcomes the news that the bill willintroduce £7.6bn a year to help fund what the government classes aslow-carbon energy by 2020-21 (which includes renewables, nuclearand biomass). But the Government's announcement also makesreference to the imminent publication of the Chancellor'sforthcoming gas generation strategy.  Although gas is requiredto help the UK make the transition to renewable power, long-termreliance on gas will cause us to fail to achieve our Climate Changetargets.

In referring to the draft Energy Bill last week Atkinscommented:"The coalition has caved in to Osborne's reckless dashfor gas and banged the final nail in the coffin of Cameron's pledgeto lead the greenest government ever. This decision will help keepthe nation hooked on increasingly expensive gas, drive away greenjobs and investment and jeopardise UK climate goals." 

The consequences of this Energy Bill will lock us into anunsustainable energy scenario based largely on gas. Whilst thismight be good for short-term economics it fails to deliver a secureenergy future for our children. In addition, it commits the UK torising carbon emissions that will continue to contribute to risingglobal temperatures.

"By failing to act now to curb our carbon emissions," commentsIsabel Carter, Chair of Operation Noah, "we are sacrificing thefuture of our children for short-term economic benefits".

As the Bill comes before the House of Commons over the next twoweeks, it will be vital for people to make their views known totheir MPs. The Methodists, Baptist, United Reformed Churches andQuakers have been working together to challenge the Energy Bill inits current form. Massive public response helped push through theClimate Act in 2007. Similar public pressure could ensure thisEnergy Bill looks to the future, sets clear decarbonisation targetsand brings massive support for renewable energy, with all the jobsand economic boost this will bring.


For action on the energy bill, clickhere.  

Operation Noahis an ecumenical Christian charity providing leadership, focus andinspiration in response to the growing threat of catastrophicclimate change.

The Methodists, Baptist, United Reformed Churches and Quakershave been working together to challenge the Energy Bill in itscurrent form. Find out more here.

Operation Noah's Annual Lecture was delivered by Andy Atkins,Executive Director, Friends of the Earth on 21stNovember 2012.

World Bankreport