Government failure to regulate the energy markets over almost a decade has added to the impact of climate change, according to a leading renewable energy expert.
Paul McCullagh, CEO of UrbanWind, stressed that warnings about what would happen if action was not taken to tackle climate change were clearly presented eight years ago in a landmark report by Sir Nicholas Stern.
And he added that this week’s IPCC meeting in Berlin highlighted the dangers the planet now faces and the dire lack of real action to find solutions during that time.
His comments echo those of Bob Ward, Policy Director at the LSE’s Grantham Institute.
“We are in a much worse position politically than we were seven years ago.
“The current lack of action means that we may have to consider ‘overshoot’ scenarios, which would be better than abandoning our temperature target threshold of two degrees.
“Some people think there’s a degree of political dishonesty in allowing governments to claim they will keep to their targets in the short term.”
UrbanWind warned that if the UK Government turns its back on onshore wind technology, as has been reported, it will not be acting in the best interests of the country or its emissions targets.
Paul McCullagh said:
“The IPCC’s warnings should not come as a surprise to anyone in Westminster.
“In 2006 both the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Sir Nicholas Stern spelt out the dangers facing the planet and the impact that would have on our economy and our lives.
“The Stern Review’s main conclusion was that the benefits of strong, early action on climate change far outweighed the costs of doing nothing.
“The message was clear: ‘We are in trouble and we have 10 years to fix if or we will have real problems.’
“One of the issues highlighted was the estimated cost of increased flooding. We all saw what happened in large areas of the UK this winter, the devastation and damage caused by rising waters.
“The IPCC is delivering a message that UK governments have known for almost 10 years.”
“Our actions over the coming few decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, later in this century and in the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the
20th century. And it will be difficult or impossible to reverse these changes.”
Paul McCullagh explained:
“We have a massive challenge heading our way and the hands-off market regulation approach we have seen has done nothing to meet it. We are ill-prepared on all fronts.
“Letting the energy markets run riot has seen the trebling of profits for power suppliers and energy costs to consumers. But where is the solution to the generation mix that the nation needs?” Paul McCullagh continued.
“The answer is it is 12 years away at least and currently it is a nuclear solution paid for by China and built by the French.”
He called on the present coalition Government to show some much needed leadership and make a commitment to renewable technology, as part of the balanced energy mix– including onshore and offshore wind turbine generation – to meet Britain’s future energy security needs and to implement measures to reduce emissions recommended by both the Stern Review and the DTI report.
“It might be politically easy for the Government to pretend wind energy won’t help the climate or our generation needs, but while it may win some votes in the short term, Britain will be the loser in the long run.
“Abandoning green policies and initiatives that are taking us towards a low carbon economy may be a good general election soundbite – for a Government under fire from a reinvigorated UKIP – in some quarters, but it is a step backwards in all senses.
“As well as the dire IPCC warnings, the parties in Government would do well to dig into the Westminster archives and dust off the Stern Review as they look towards their election manifestos.
Paul McCullagh highlighted that three key elements of policy were required for an effective response to the challenge of climate change: carbon pricing, technology policy and energy efficiency. He added that the technology policy should drive the large-scale developments and the growth of a range of low-carbon and high-efficiency products. The IPCC report shows that to still be the case.
“It also acts as the final warning that, if we don’t get the energy generation mix right and we don’t take climate change seriously, we will be leaving a truly frightening legacy for future generations to come.”
With its headquarters in Glasgow and an operation hub in the North West of England, UrbanWind is one of the UK’s leading providers of renewable energy technology.
Its highly experienced and knowledgeable team has undertaken more than 500 successful turbine installations across the country.