MAY 2022: News from our local MP Thangam Debbonaire

April 28 2022

Renewable energy: what's not to like?

While the news has been full of war, political scandal and turmoil, it was easy to miss the increasingly urgent stories about the climate crisis. 

A huge scientific study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change, published in April, should have shaken our government into action. It said we only have a narrow – and fast disappearing - chance of avoiding dangerous levels of warming. 

The report demonstrated many countries are still going in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, the UK seems to be one of them.

A few days after this report was published, the government published its energy strategy. This was an opportunity to end the UK’s dependence on oil and gas, cut carbon emissions faster and make energy cheaper for households with soaring bills. Instead we got a mixed bag of policies failing to do any of these things. 

The worst part of this strategy was a commitment to increase fossil fuel production in the North Sea. This is completely the wrong answer to the climate crisis, and will do nothing to reduce bills, as the oil will be sold on the global market. 

While there were some positive statements on renewable energy, I was very disappointed to see the strategy reject the cheapest, quickest forms of power we have, including onshore wind and solar. 

I am pushing the government to do a lot more to reverse the damage from recent policies. In 2015 the government banned onshore wind farms, effectively destroying the industry. Only 20 wind turbines have been built in last five years. And solar installations have fallen by 95% in recent years.

So what should the government do? I believe we need to turbocharge the drive to cheap, clean, home-grown forms of renewables and nuclear energy. 

When in government, Labour would also implement a national emergency plan insulating 19 million homes. This would cut bills for the millions of pensioners and low income households who need it most. 

And as I’ve written before in this column, we need address the escalating cost of energy which is hitting people’s pockets now. We should be reducing bills by taxing the eye-watering profits made by oil and gas companies.

We need real leadership

A few months ago, when the government was promising leadership on climate when it was leading the COP26 summit, I gathered feedback from hundreds of you and took it to government ministers. What was striking was that everyone I spoke to wanted the government to do more.

Bristol has always been a progressive, environmentally-aware place. But I think people across the country will also be disappointed with the government’s indifference to the climate crisis. Over the last year, YouGov polls showed people consistently ranking ‘the environment’ as the most important political issue after health and the economy.

I will keep pushing the government to listen to you and the rest of the country. The arguments have never been clearer. We need real, fast and radical action to move to clean energy now. 

Contct me at thangam.debbonaire.mp@parliament.uk. Alternatively, call 0117 3790980 between 10am and 4pm Monday-Friday.