UK Backs Off Green Energy To Assist Oil And Nuclear Projects

Renewable and clean energy are emerging in markets as a force to be reckoned with. Not only are they popular with customers, but with official international mandates on environmental health. So why then is the UK gutting subsidies to clean energy projects?

It was a move that angered the UN’s chief environmental scientist Jacqueline McGlade. She told the BBC that, “What’s disappointing is when we see countries such as the United Kingdom that have really been in the lead in terms of getting their renewable energy up and going – we see subsidies being withdrawn”.

And these are not minuscule cuts. Solar power alone has suffered an 87% reduction in subsidies. Funding for wind power and tidal energy has also been slashed. Yet, even more devastating is that at the same time, tax breaks are being handed out to oil and gas companies, while subsidies handed out to help fund nuclear energy.

Government officials say this is being done to save their fledgling oil industry. To achieve this they will be pumping in £1.3bn into North Sea oil and gas over the next five years. This will include tax breaks and exploration credits. Proponents say this will save thousands of jobs. 

It’s odd timing for the UK as it comes ahead of one of the largest worldwide conferences on climate change. Known as COP21 and due to take place in Paris this December, government members from over 190 countries will meet to discuss effective strategies for combating climate change.

Many have already started making pledges, and a spokesman from the UK government told BBC they are absolutely committed to a global deal in Paris. Yet Professor McGlade says the recent subsidy cuts sends a “perverse signal” when it came to the conference preparation.

The abrupt end of these subsidies has meant, according to one research team, that around 1,000 jobs have already been lost. Investors have also had to deal with the shell shock of increased production prices.

But many believe things will only get worse for the renewable and clean energy industry. Officials told The Independent that these cuts could be damning to the industry, with an expected loss of tens of thousands of jobs. They say this could result in the UK, “scaring away foreign investors and could leave scores of British firms on the brink of bankruptcy.”

The new energy policy emerging out the UK has bewildered numerous environmentalists around the world. Friends of the Earth campaigner Alasdair Cameron told reporters, “We are struggling to understand the Government’s approach to renewables when it is also seeking Chinese investment in nuclear power. It’s the equivalent of throwing money at analogue instead of digital television.”

It is also worth pointing out that all this is coming at a time when a new analysis by Climate Interactive has shown our current global goals for reducing carbon emissions and energy use are simply not good enough to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The UK will have to reckon with these facts during the Paris climate change convention. For now, many environmentalists and scientists are warning the country that it’s current trajectory not only sets a dangerous precedent for the international community, but is chipping away at the future health of the planet.

Photo Credit: Pam Brophy/Wikimedia

84 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

OMG the UK has been taken over by republicans. I am so sorry. I hope you are able to vote them off the island.

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S M.
S M2 years ago

The wimps in UN backing off again! Just like they do about Israel's wrongs and america's militarism and the misery it causing around the world in countries with less foundations to resist, hence that why America daring to provoke and interfere and UN remains silent or just mumbles.

Maybe they have been told by their 'benefactors' that they will reduce 'assistance' until back the fossil fuel corporations.

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell2 years ago

Thank you

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Rosemary H.
Rosemary H2 years ago

It does look as though my first post yesterday was lost.

I agree that there is plenty wrong with a policy that favours oil and fracking – the support for nuclear was probably inevitable.

However, when we had subsidies for “green” energy, they disappeared into the pockets of Big Business, wining and dining politicians so they could go ahead with building onshore wind farms in places where there was not enough wind for them to be viable sources of green energy. We don't use the word “corruption” of British politics, but that's more or less what it was. These subsidies came out of the energy bills of ordinary people, many of them in fuel poverty.

These “wind farms” were not only in places with little wind, but threatened maximum disruption to local communities. I could write a LOT about this – in fact the study of wind that I made for a public enquiry ran to 6000 words.

Cameron seems to have put paid to this, thank goodness, but of course the right thing to do is to invest the money that used to be squandered on near-useless projects into efficient renewables that really deliver a lot of green energy.

I feel that the previous blind drive towards infestations of big white totem poles has left us with a gap in our sources of energy, hence the drive to these undesirables.

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Rosemary H.
Rosemary H2 years ago

It does look as though my first post yesterday was lost.

I agree that there is plenty wrong with a policy that favours oil and fracking – the support for nuclear was probably inevitable.

However, when we had subsidies for “green” energy, they disappeared into the pockets of Big Business, wining and dining politicians so they could go ahead with building onshore wind farms in places where there was not enough wind for them to be viable sources of green energy. We don't use the word “corruption” of British politics, but that's more or less what it was. These subsidies came out of the energy bills of ordinary people, many of them in fuel poverty.

These “wind farms” were not only in places with little wind, but threatened maximum disruption to local communities. I could write a LOT about this – in fact the study of wind that I made for a public enquiry ran to 6000 words.

Cameron seems to have put paid to this, thank goodness, but of course the right thing to do is to invest the money that used to be squandered on near-useless projects into efficient renewables that really deliver a lot of green energy.

I feel that the previous blind drive towards infestations of big white totem poles has left us with a gap in our sources of energy, hence the drive to these undesirables.

SEND
Rosemary H.
Rosemary H2 years ago

It does look as though my first post yesterday was lost.

I agree that there is plenty wrong with a policy that favours oil and fracking – the support for nuclear was probably inevitable.

However, when we had subsidies for “green” energy, they disappeared into the pockets of Big Business, wining and dining politicians so they could go ahead with building onshore wind farms in places where there was not enough wind for them to be viable sources of green energy. We don't use the word “corruption” of British politics, but that's more or less what it was. These subsidies came out of the energy bills of ordinary people, many of them in fuel poverty.

These “wind farms” were not only in places with little wind, but threatened maximum disruption to local communities. I could write a LOT about this – in fact the study of wind that I made for a public enquiry ran to 6000 words.

Cameron seems to have put paid to this, thank goodness, but of course the right thing to do is to invest the money that used to be squandered on near-useless projects into efficient renewables that really deliver a lot of green energy.

I feel that the previous blind drive towards infestations of big white totem poles has left us with a gap in our sources of energy, hence the turn to these undesirables.

SEND
Karen H.
Karen H2 years ago

Back in the 1800s, London’s air was unbreathable due to fossil fuels. Remember reading about the “London fog” in Victorian novels? You’d think the UK would want to move forward to clean energy rather than step backwards.
Margaret G, it’s not just the Koch Brothers fighting clean energy. Walmart donates millions to organizations that don’t want us to go solar. There are companies like Yeloha that allow homeowners to power their own home with solar, plus share that power with others. That’s a big no-no for Wally-World because it doesn’t put $$ in their pockets.
The answer to why any country wouldn’t want clean energy is money. If there’s no big money to be made, it’s deemed “a non-viable resource”.
Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House in 1979, but Reagan took them down. Obama put them back up in 2013. Guess the GOP isn’t interested in clean energy, so that shows who they listen to—not the people but the corporations that fund their campaigns.

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Kate Kenzie
Kate Kenzie2 years ago

Well, Cameron has the dubious accolade of going down in history as the worst PM ever. Badger culls, tax credit cuts, systematic dismantling of the NHS...... This is a bad time for us Brits. I still don't understand how he even got back in.

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Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller2 years ago

This is progress in reverse! They should be cutting ties with dirty energy not helping it!

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