Adrian Ramsay: Government energy strategy “does not serve the needs of people or the climate”
The government has announced its Energy Security Strategy, following soaring energy prices and the accelerated need for energy independence following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The strategy’s headlines include commitments to delivering the equivalent of one new nuclear reactor per year, providing new licenses for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea and reducing the approval times for offshore wind farms.
This approach has been heavily criticised by the Green Party of England and Wales. Immediately following the strategy’s publication, the party’s co-leader Adrian Ramsay said it “does not serve the needs of people or the climate”. He said,
This is an energy strategy that does not serve the needs of people or the climate.
We are in the middle of a cost of living crisis and a climate crisis, but this strategy is not being driven by the interests of those who can’t afford to heat their homes, or those of future generations. Instead it is being driven by the interests of Conservative MPs who want to see ‘every lost drop’ of North Sea oil drained, as Jacob Rees Mogg said just this week.
In his comments, Ramsay also called for the government to go much further on wind energy generation, arguing that wind should be providing up to 70 per cent of the UK’s energy by 2030. He said,
If the government was concerned about energy bills and taking real climate action, it would be going even further in onshore wind. We need to see wind provide as much as 70% of the UK’s electricity by 2030, yet the government’s strategy would only achieve 25%.
Ramsay went on to flesh out these comments in an interview with the BBC‘s Nick Robinson on the Today programme on April 7. Pressed on the role of nuclear in the UK’s energy mix, Ramsay branded it “an expensive distraction”. He said,
The environmental concerns about nuclear power are still there. But more importantly, there’s a very practical question, which is that we need to improve our energy security, we need to be taking big steps away from fossil fuels within the next few years, the UN report this week has reminded us.
And nuclear is just an expensive distraction. Any nuclear power station that started to be planned today, it would be well over ten years before we saw any electricity generated from it at all. And in that timescale we need to be getting to net zero carbon emissions. And of course nuclear is twice as expensive as renewables as well. So the most efficient way of reducing our carbon emissions, of helping reduce people’s energy bills is by focussing on energy efficiency, home insulation – which seems to be completely missing from this strategy – and also a far greater focus on renewable energy, we can have a far bigger effect, far more quickly with focusing on those areas.
Elsewhere in the interview, Ramsay would go on to describe the lack of detail on energy efficiency and insulation in the government’s strategy as “completely bizarre”. He told the Today programme,
It’s completely bizarre that energy efficiency seems to be entirely missing from this strategy because the cheapest, greenest form of energy is the energy we don’t use. And at a time when millions of people are struggling to pay their fuel bills, we need to focusing on a massive scaling up of home insulation and making big progress on this before next winter.
He went on to reiterate the Greens’ policies to address the cost of living crisis, including a windfall tax on the fossil fuel industry to pay for a non-means tested winter fuel payment and a £40 increase in Universal Credit payments among other measures. Ramsay said,
At a time when millions of people are struggling to pay their fuel bills, the oil and gas companies are making unprecedented profits, and we would like to see a windfall tax on those profits which would be enough not only to restore the £20 uplift in Universal Credit, but to double that to £40 and the same for other legacy benefits so the people on lowest incomes are given that support.
And indeed we would go further than that, we would like to see a carbon tax on all the polluting industries which can play an integral role in the changes that we need to see to bring about a green economy and all of the benefits that can have in terms of jobs, carbon emissions, and of course, addressing the cost of living crisis.
The government’s Energy Security Strategy comes just days after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest report. That report said that there are just thirty months left to ensure global greenhouse gas emissions begin to fall to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. It also said that all existing and planned fossil fuel projects in themselves set the world on a trajectory of more than 1.5 degrees of warming, before any new projects are established.