By David Toke
The UK Government could be poised to scrap commitments for a programme of energy efficiency and, alongside this, postpone programmes being proposed to boost energy efficiency of buildings. Instead the gas lobby will be given full rein. A range of Government departments and agencies trying to implement democratic comitments are being eclipsed in influence by a sinister ‘deep state’ that claims to really know popular will.
In a report in the Financial Times the Government, advised by Dominic Cummings, is said to be sidelining the £9.2 billion Conservative manifesto commitment for ‘energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals’ (page 55) because it is ‘boring’.
In the process vital measures to achieving the UK’s net zero target are being thwarted. For example, a new report urges ‘minimum energy performance standards’ to be set for existing buildings. The Welsh Government has given the green light for a projected funded out of a wider £1.3 billion scheme to install insulation, heat pumps, batteries and solar panels in new and old buildings. Why cannot these things be done together? The measures can be targeted for the poorest areas and jobs boosted in the process. Energy bills for the poorest communities can be slashed.
The Committee on Climate Change is rightfully kicking up a fuss about the abandonment of the Conservative Party’s commitments. Buildings take up over a third of carbon emissions and a failure to tackle buildings efficiency strikes at the heart of Government commitments to tackle decarbonisation.
There are also fears that after sustained pressure from the gas lobby the Government’s commitment to stop new homes being fitted with gas connections from 2025 will be scrapped. Rather, the gas lobby is organising a big push to have natural gas replaced by so-called blue hydrogen which will allow the natural gas industry to carry on promoting carbon emissions all around the world. All in all it seems that something close to business as usual is planned by the Government rather than net zero carbon.
Tom Burke, Chair of 3EG said: ‘They (the Government) are going to run everything as a Trump like permanent campaign with the goal of keeping media attention constantly moving on. Trying this on the virus hasn’t worked well for them but they are not really bothered about the outcomes. What this means is that climate change will get the headlines but that carbon intensive will get the money’.
It’s funny that conspiracy theorists talk about the ‘deep state’ undermining the populist leaders when it fact it seems that a ‘deep state’ of populists is undermining the democratically agreed manifesto commitments!