Earlier this week, an influential group of Conservative MP’s , self described as ‘Progressive’, called on their party to fully embrace green policies and make them a cornerstone of the electoral campaign in 2015. The 2020 Group published a strategy document calling for the embracement of green ideas and the expansion of the green economy.
The 2020 Group has over 60 members including several high profile and influentiual figures such as the Energy Minister Greg Barker, Transport Secretary Justine Greening and the Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin. The strategy document, entitled ‘2020 Vision: An Agenda for Transformation‘ was written by MP’s Laura Sandys and Claire Perry and outlines several policy proposals as well as emphasising the increasing importance of renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and tidal in protecting consumers from spiralling bills and price shocks.
The case has been made before but is worth repeating: increased renewable energy generation protects consumers by making the UK far less dependant upon imports of oil and gas. This in turn insulates the UK energy market and UK consumers from seemingly inexorable price rises on international markets.
The document continues to urge the UK Government to not fall down on the wrong side of history:
“In 2020 a new industrial revolution will be underway, accepted as the new paradigm for modern business practise. Business model terminology will have changed significantly by 2020. No longer will people describe companies as ‘green’ or ‘ethical’ – quite the reverse. Companies will be specifically described as fossil fuel companies and will be regarded as having archaic business models, greater insecurity in financial returns due to exposure to a widely fluctuating global market, and unethical in terms of values and philosophy.
“We will drop the word ‘renewable’ because renewable will be the norm. Ultimately, sustainable energy sources will be as much about economic efficiencies, resilience, and a modern economic model as it is about reducing our carbon emissions in the face of climate change…
“Never before has an economic re-alignment been supported by so many less than usual bedfellows. Organisations ranging from the CBI to the largest corporations such as Unilever, BAT, Siemens, Alstom and Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and church groups have all been supporting the need for very clear messages from government on decarbonisation… greening the economy is not ‘nice to have’, but a total necessity.”
The 2020 Group has been quoted as saying that the document will be the basis of further and expanded policies in the run up to 2015.
The launch of the paper has been enthusiastically greeted by the renewables industry. Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of the trade-body RenewableUK released the following comment:
“This forward looking group of Conservative MPs has clearly articulated a vision which many of us share. Opinion polls show that they’re in tune with the majority of public opinion on the growing importance of renewable energy.
“We can build an escape route for consumers from the uncontrollable rise of fossil fuel prices by de-carbonising our energy supply and generating clean electricity from our own natural resources. It’s great to see an influential group of progressive Tory MPs going public in their support for this.
“The business is compelling not just in terms of reducing the long term cost of energy, but also in securing economic growth, as nearly 90,000 of us will be working in the wind, wave and tidal energy industries by 2020.”
It will be interesting to see exactly what further policies the 2020 group will be proposing but the very fact that a high profile collection of Conservative MPs is pushing for more renewable energy will surely serve to reassure investors and the UK’s growing renewable energy industries.