Churches put Government's green credentials on trial

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

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

The draft Bill will encourage the building of more coaland gas-fired power stations and would allow high levels of carbonemissions from power stations until 2045. The Committee on ClimateChange has advised the Government that the power sector must besubstantially decarbonised by 2030 in order to achieve the UK'scarbon targets. 

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

The Churches' warning follows correspondence betweensenior leaders of the four denominations and Ed Davey MP, Secretaryof State for Energy and Climate Change. Mr Davey outlinedopportunities for new coal and gas power stations. The Committee onClimate Change has stated that these plans are likely to causeBritain to fail in future carbon budgets.

A studyconducted by the WWF-UK (World Wide Fund for Nature) shows that theUK could achieve at least 60 per cent of electricity generationfrom renewable sources by 2030. The Churches are calling on allpolitical parties to make a clearer commitment to renewable energy.The Churches point out that further significant growth in therenewables sector will require greater certainty on investmentreturns. They want to see the Committee on Climate Change'srecommendation of a 2030 decarbonisation target incorporated intothe Bill.

"A renewables-based energy system is realistic andachievable," continued Dr Wakelin, President of the MethodistConference. "But the draft Bill lacks the ambition needed togenerate green jobs in the renewable energy sector.  AsChristians we believe that we are all called to protect and sustainour planet and eco-system for future generations."