Edward Davey MP writes…Lib Dem led British diplomacy paves way for global climate change deal

Liberal Democrats in Government are having a huge impact on tackling climate change, and today you’ve seen concrete evidence of how we’re winning the debate – not just in the UK, but across the EU and potentially beyond.

The main prize is huge – we’re working towards a global climate change deal that will be discussed at the critical 2015 talks.  But how do we get there?

Firstly, I got cross-Government agreement on an ambitious UK position. We have pushed for a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the EU by 2030. We want this increased to 50% if the rest of the world is ready to put pen to paper on ambitious climate change deal in 2015.

The argument I also pushed in Government and won is that there would be no need for additional targets, including on renewables, if we got ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. This may seem strange, but we are making such huge progress on increasing renewables (we have doubled the amount electricity they produce since 2010) and the long-term contracts we’ve set out in the Energy Act send a clear message to renewables investors. In fact, they’re already lining up to do deals that will increase low carbon energy in a way that is affordable to consumers. Adopting technology specific targets – eg on renewables – risks putting off other green investment in technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS), and pushing up consumer bills.

This ‘technology neutral’ approach also mirrors what we and many of the green groups fought for in our 2013 Energy Act – a separate 2030 decarbonisation target. I ensured that the powers to set such a tech-neutral target in 2016 were in the new Energy Act. It will be a world first – and help investment not just in renewables but in energy efficiency and CCS.

Secondly, I have pushed the UK position in Europe and worked hard to build support among like-minded countries through the ‘Green Growth Group’ that I established in the EU soon after I became Secretary of State. What you will have heard today from the European Commission are the first results of that push, and over the next few months we need to reach an agreed position. But, so far, so good: the Commission has accepted our view that a binding ambitious low carbon target of 40% is right and that technology specific targets on individual member states are not. This is a significant win for us.

Lastly, we must take our agreed EU position to the climate change talks this year, and pave the way for a global deal in 2015. Why is this the main prize? To truly tackle climate change, the UK or the EU cannot go it alone. We have to secure a globally binding deal. Today, thanks to Lib Dem led British diplomacy in Europe, we’re leading the way.

* Ed Davey is the MP for Kingston & Surbiton and Acting co-Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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15 Comments

  • I think I know one or two reasons why I think this, but I fear this presentation of a negotiating position is not in any way as positive as it looks, and is a little disingenuous. We have, all of us fighting for a low input energy future, been fighting backsliding, often by the US, sometimes by the Tories, invariably by certain other players, ever since Kyoto and before. Ed has already given way over nuclear, and fracking, and probably by reducing the feed-in tariff for renewables by too much. Is it really believable that this failure to set a renewable target is not yet another back step on the slippery slope of concessions to those who, often for their own ends, would deny climate change and / or fight measures to combat it?

  • Tim13 and Geoff Crocker make perfectly reasonable points. But anyone who watched Ed Davey on the BBC’s Hardtalk interview wil be aware that he is not in the business of reasoned argument preferring instead to try and spin or evade rather than answer the difficult questions. Of course the most difficult question is how he can have done such a personal U-turn on nuclear since the statements he made in opposition and at each of the 4 general elections when he told us he was against nuclear. He tells the world he “changed his mind” because of climate change but in the context of this week’s events his spinning is particularly threadbare, as a Lib Dem Secretary of State for Energy he has a less green policy than the German Conservatives. Not exactly the greenest government in history that we were promised. Not even the greenest government in Europe. Unless you are using the term green as it once was to mean naive .

    Our Secretary of State will go down in history NOTas the Lib Dem who worked wonders for climate change and brilliantly used “Lib Dem led diplomacy” to make “a huge impact on climate change” BUTas the man who lumbered us with yet more dangerous nuclear waste to poison our children and grandchildren, who will pay higher prices for the privilege of having to cope with his nuclear legacy.

    The BBC World Service chose not to report the sort of spin that appears at the top of this thread. They simply reported that in the climate change talks the Germans were confident that they could do the necessary with renewables and sustainable energy sources whilst the UK had gone nuclear.

  • Interesting comments here. Personally I think Ed should applauded for helping to double the renewable energy output of the UK and securing much needed future investment in the sector to stay on course for a very ambitious 50% target by 2030.

    My problem with nuclear has always primarily been the cost, and as long as it’s delivered without public subsidy then I don’t think it’s a huge concession. Very few new nuclear power stations are likely to be built anyway as long as they remain so expensive.

    Fracking of course is not really about electricity generation. Only a quarter of gas is used for that, so even if we get to 100% use of renewables, we’ll still need a hell of a lot of gas, and fracking can potentially provide us with the only secure supply. To get it right needs effective regulation, not the hysterical reaction we’ve seen from some.

  • Tim P 23rd Jan ’14 – 9:57am

    Tim, I agree with you that the cost of nuclear power is far too expensive for any reasoonable person to chose it. It is also too expensive for any private business to even consider the risk, which is why Hinkley C is only posible because two state corporations are involved.
    You seem to suggest that there is no public subsidy. What about the costs of de-commissioning nuclear plants and storing nuclear waste for eternity because there is no known safe disposal method ? That a subsidy to the tune of Billions of pounds stretching so far into the future that it is immeasurable.

  • Geoff Crocker 23rd Jan ’14 – 11:01am it’s at http://www.horizonnuclearpower.com/

    This is a link to the website of public relations outfit which is owned by a nuclear power operator. Perhaps not the most objective of sources?

  • David Allen 23rd Jan '14 - 1:03pm

    I can’t find anything other than brief and non-specific assurances of cost efficiency on the Horizon website. Am I looking in the wrong place? Can Geoff Crocker provide a more specific link?

  • Geoff Crocker 23rd Jan ’14 – 12:53pm

    Just in case you were in any doubt, when I said a PR outfit I was not talking about The Electoral Reform Society.
    I was talking about Public Relations and that is what most normal people ould recognise when viiting this website you have provided a link to.

  • For an alternatives to Geoff Crockers public relations website , please visit —

    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/how-can-the-nuclear-industry-profit-from-nucl/blog/44192/

    Which includes —
    As former Babcock-Hitachi engineer Mitsuhiko Tanaka said in a Greenpeace video about a flawed reactor vessel Hitachi made for Fukushima: “when the stakes are raised to such a height, a company will not choose what is safe and legal. Even if it is dangerous they will choose to save the company from destruction.”
    Corporate social responsibility does not ensure timely and just compensation for the people who are suffering, and it does not protect taxpayers from footing the bill for the negligence of the nuclear industry. Laws must change.
    If these companies whose products created such severe damage can walk away while the people are forced to pay the cost, the Fukushima disaster will be repeated.
    Please help us hold nuclear suppliers responsible: the polluter must pay. Sign our petition today.

  • David Allen 23rd Jan '14 - 4:36pm

    OK Geoff, so the people offering the latest ABWR think it will be 15-20% cheaper than the earlier version of the ABWR. Perhaps they are right. However, the actual price we have “had” to agree to pay for power from Hinkley C is about 100% higher than the current price of fossil energy. So – in no way is nuclear cheap!

    Now I grant you that any cleaner alternative to unabated fossil energy can be expected to cost more. I can see that in a theoretical sense, Ed Davey’s idea of a “technology neutral” pledge (I deliberately choose an unfortunate word here!) could enable us to cut the most carbon for the least cost. But, if we are so canny about minimising the cost of saving carbon, how on earth did it make sense to go for Hinkley C?

  • When did it become Liberal Democrt policy to BITTERLY OPPOSE RENEWABLE ENERGY ???
    I have only just read The Guardian report. Very different indeed from what Ed Davey says above.
    Which are we to believe ???

    The Guardian report includes the following —-

    Ed Davey, the UK’s energy and climate change secretary, bitterly opposed the renewable energy target, but was overruled as big member states including Germany, France and Italy backed it.

    Davey said: “Today’s proposals are a step in the right direction towards an ambitious emissions reduction target for Europe. They provide the flexibility to tackle climate change in the most cost-effective way, so that British consumers aren’t paying over the odds to go green.” But he added that “the UK remains concerned about any renewables target.”

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