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Posts Tagged ‘Energy Bill’

Energy Bill: a disappointing result

June 6th, 2013 by

Down, but not out. We fought a good fight – but on Tuesday, we lost the vote for a clean energy target. It was painfully close. If just 12 MPs had voted differently, we would have won. On the day, it felt too close to call. A last-minute flood of MPs came out in support. But ultimately, we just didn’t have enough votes.

It’s sad when we lose, especially when it’s on something as important as protecting our planet. But we fought valiantly and gave it our all, and today we can be proud as well as disappointed. A year ago, the prospect of so many MPs voting for a clean energy target was inconceivable. Our work, alongside our friends at Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, changed that.

Together we sent tens of thousands of emails, phone calls and tweets to our MPs. We also ramped up the pressure targeting wavering MPs with adverts in local newspapers, leaflets and meetings. It’s thanks to all we did together that so many MPs switched their votes, and turned out on Tuesday in support.

Undeniably, this is not where we wanted to be today. But there’s still hope that we’ll secure the target we need. The Energy Bill will now go to the House of Lords to be debated again. They have the power to include a clean energy target. They are much more likely to do so because it was such a close vote in the House of Commons.

Here’s a breakdown of how MPs voted:

Three MPs in particular deserve closer attention. Where were George Birtwhistle and Charles Kennedy on Tuesday? And why did Andrew Stunell not turn up, despite adding his name to the clean energy target before the vote?

Here’s Gordon Birtwhistle MP on Twitter, on the morning of the vote:

So far, so good. But on the evening of the vote:

Charles Kennedy MP is another. Here’s his tweet on the morning of the vote, but when it came to it, he wasn’t in the House of Commons to vote:

And finally, Andrew Stunell MP. He added his name to the amendments which would have ensured a clean energy target in advance of the vote, but on the day, he didn’t turn up either:

If any of these three are your MP, and you’d like to ask them what happened, you can write to them here:

Gordon Birtwhistle

Charles Kennedy

Andrew Stunell

On the other hand, lots of MPs did do the right thing. It’s said ‘thank you’ is the least-used word in politics, so let’s change that. If your MP voted in favour of a clean energy target (you can check here) , you can thank them in less than two minutes.

That’s all for now. We’ll keep going – but today, let’s take a moment to acknowledge what we accomplished. We put climate change on the political map, and inspired one of the biggest MP rebellions of this parliament. And if we keep working together, we’ll get our chance to turn this decision around.



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Energy Bill: 24 hours to go

June 3rd, 2013 by

24 hours. That’s all the time we have left til MPs vote for the final time on the Energy Bill – and on a clean energy target.

A 2030 clean energy target is crucial, and it’s crucial that we commit to it now. The government want to delay setting one til 2015 at the earliest, but they’re just ducking the responsibility. If the vote for a clean target passes tomorrow, we’ll be committing to £25 billion in savings, creating thousands of green jobs and saving the atmosphere from 400 million tonnes of damaging carbon emissions. Not only that, but we’ll be back on track to meet our climate change targets.

If the vote doesn’t go the right way, none of that will happen.

The choice is stark and immediate: either we stand up and tackle climate change head on, creating jobs and making savings along the way – or we duck the chance, and rush headlong towards gas and other dirty fuels.

17 wavering MPs have bowed to the pressure and said they’ll vote for clean energy after outcries in their constituencies – but for a majority to vote the right way tomorrow, we need 25 more Lib Dem and Conservative MPs to switch sides. If your MP is a Tory or a Lib Dem, you can email them now by clicking here.

Alternatively, call your MP’s office or join in on Twitter. The hashtag is #vote4cleanpower – and the debate is hotting up.

One last time, here’s the link to email your MP: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/urgent-clean-energy

Together, we can make sure that when MPs walk into the House of Commons tomorrow, they’re feeling the weight of expectation to vote the right way.


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Keeping the lights on in 2030: 8 days left to decide how

May 26th, 2013 by

In 2030, what will be keeping our lights on? Our energy future is a £25bn question – and on June 4th, MPs will vote on the answer.

The choice facing the UK is clear. Either we choose clean energy sources over dirty ones – or we don’t. Either we stop 550 million extra tonnes of carbon belching into our atmosphere – or we don’t. Either we commit to cleaning up our energy sector, to meeting our climate change targets, and to creating tens of thousands of new jobs – or we don’t.

The government’s draft energy laws are back in parliament on June 4th. If we’re going to make sure that MPs make the right choice on our energy future, we have 8 days to convince them.

And over the past few months, 38 Degrees members have been pretty convincing. Together, we’ve seen 15 of our target MPs switch sides. Here’s how:

Energy Bill: the campaign so far

Parliament’s taking a break, so MPs are back in their constituency for the next week. They’ll be reading their local papers – so together, 38 Degrees members are making sure that our message gets through. So far, nearly 1000 of us have written letters to our local newspaper editors to let MPs know that on June 4th, they’ll be under scrutiny.

If your MP is Conservative or Lib Dem (and especially if they’re a Lib Dem, seeing as a 2030 target is Lib Dem party policy), write to your local paper quickly and easily by clicking here.

We have 10 days to persuade enough MPs to make the right choice. Are you in?

If you are, and you want to do more - like leaflet your neighbours or pop in to see your MP in person – please email us at energybill@38degrees.org.uk.

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Energy Bill: Experts reply to MPs

April 4th, 2013 by

The energy bill campaign is in full swing. So far, almost 23,000 38 Degrees members have written to their MP to ask them to sign up to a cleaner energy future.  Tim Yeo MP has submitted amendments to the energy bill currently going through parliament which would ensure a firm decarbonisation target becomes UK law. George Osborne and the government oppose it – but experts from across civil society agree that this target is vital.

Some MPs have written thoughtful, reasonsed responses to their constituents – but some MPs have been using the same well-worn arguments to explain away their refusal to support Tim Yeo’s vital amendments. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have compiled two brilliant guides to countering some of these common replies.

Excerpts are below. Thanks Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth!

Responding to Conservative MPs – Friends of the Earth

“First, let me assure you that the government is committed to setting a decarbonisation target.”

How we wish that were true.  In reality, nothing in the Energy Bill or the government’s amendments commits them to setting a decarbonisation target either now or in the future.

“The government recently laid amendment to the energy Bill to enable a legally binding decarbonisation target for the electricity sector to be set in 2016.”

This is very sneaky wording. The government recently laid amendments are in reality a step backwards. Here is why:

No commitment:

  • They outlaw any target for the power sector being set before 2016, but do not commit the government to setting a target after.  It just says a carbon target for the power sector can be set in 2016 at the earliest but does not have to be set in that year  - or have to be set at all.

No decarbonisation:

  • Even if a target was set, it would not have to be a target to clean up the power sector. According to the government’s proposals, a target can be set at any level of ‘carbon intensity’ (meaning how many climate changing carbon emissions can be created for each unit of electricity produced ) and the target doesn’t have to be met by 2030, or any other date.

This means that the Government could set a target so high that allowed them to build 40 new gas power stations as George Osborne is pushing for in his reckless campaign for a new dash for gas. The proposals are so weak they could technically even set a target for electricity to be  more polluting than it is today. When former Government Energy Minister John Hayes was asked by MPs in January if there could be any limit on what the target could be added to the amendments, he gave a flat out no.

“Powers to set a decarbonisation target range for 2030 will be brought forward in secondary legislation.”

This is wrong. The power being included in the energy Bill is to set a ‘target range’ for any year from 2030, not for 2030. Strangely, it also outlaws any target being met any year before 2030 . It also does not have to be a set at a level  that would significantly reduce the carbon in our electricity as explained above .

“It has been decided to set the target in 2016, once the committee on climate change has provided advice; in line with the fifth carbon budget which covers the corresponding period.”

The government’s independent advisers on climate change the committee on climate change have already told the government that they think a decarbonisation target of 50 g of carbon per kilowatt hour of electricity should be set in the Energy Bill now. They have recommended this as part of their duty to advise on what the most cost-effective way to meet our legally binding commitments to cut 80% of our carbon emissions by 2050.

They most recently wrote to the Government asking them to re-consider and set a decarbonisation target now on the 27th February.

If the government doesn’t change its mind this would be the first time that they have ignored significant advice from the committee since it was established by the 2008 climate change act.

“The government has no doubt that the UK will retain its status as a great place to do low carbon business. The energy Bill will attract £110 billion of investment to bring about a once in a generation transformation of the U.K.’s electricity mix, moving from a predominantly fossil fuel to a diverse low carbon generation mix.”

This is not what Green Businesses are saying. A letter published in the Times on the 11 March from six major energy companies says “Postponing the 2030 target decision until 2016 creates entirely avoidable political risk. This will slow growth in the low carbon sector, handicap the UK supply chain, reduce UK R&D and produce fewer new jobs…. We are aware of UK-based supply chain partners with investment plans on hold, or at risk, until greater confidence is achieved.”

Responding to Liberal Democrat MPs – Greenpeace

“I am pleased with the Energy Bill as it currently stands, as it will make the UK less reliant on fossil fuels and will encourage a massive investment in renewables and other forms of low-carbon energy.”

Whilst the Energy Bill does indeed represent an opportunity to cut our reliance on fossil fuels and drive investment in renewables, clean energy investors and businesses say the Bill needs improvement before that’s certain to happen. It needs a 2030 clean energy target.

Just this week, Ernst & Young warned: “The main source of disappointment for investors was confirmation that a decarbonisation target will not be set until 2016. This delay cast doubts over the UK’s commitment to cut carbon emissions 50% by 2027 and left investors with a sense of uncertainty.”

Worse, some of the biggest manufacturing companies in the world – including big wind energy companies like Siemens – also warned on the front page of The Times recently that they could cancel billions of pounds worth of new wind turbine factories and green jobs in the UK unless the Energy Bill includes a clear goal to decarbonise electricity by 2030. They wrote, “A binding 2030 target for power sector decarbonisation would help to reduce the political risk currently associated with long-term UK industrial investment.”

“As a Liberal Democrat, I have always understood the potential benefits of having a decarbonisation target within the Energy Bill itself, as I recognise that the transition to a low-carbon economy is one of the most significant challenges facing the UK in the coming decades. Nevertheless, when governing as part of a coalition, it is often the case that certain compromises have to be made.”

Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey, in a speech to his own party said, “The Liberal Democrats are not for turning….. investors crave certainty. Stability. The confidence that Governments will stick to their word… That’s why there’s a strong case for a carbon limit for Britain’s energy grid for 2030. Energy is always a long term investment. So if we are to create greater investor confidence in Britain’s low carbon energy future, a long-term target is best.”

Yet turning is precisely what he seems to be doing. Lib Dem members voted to make it Lib Dem party policy.

It is true Conservatives in government are opposed to the target. But MPs from across the party political divide – led by the Conservative Tim Yeo – are putting partisan point scoring aside and backing a package of amendments that would see a target set now. If Lib Dems choose to back Tim Yeo’s green jobs amendments now, they can make their own party policy into law. It’s time for Lib Dems to stick to their green promises.

“In order to guarantee that all of the other positive aspects of the Energy Bill could become law alongside the financial support for low carbon generation, it was necessary to forego the possibility of setting a decarbonisation target now. Significantly however, the Bill provides powers for a 2030 decarbonisation target to be set in 2016.”

The Bill currently says the government ‘may’ set a target in 2016. They don’t have to. Saying that a decarbonisation target may or may not be set some time after the next general election just isn’t good enough. Failing to prioritise decarbonisation with this Bill risks jeopardising green growth, and putting up both energy bills and carbon emissions. That’s because it could fire the starting gun on more imported and expensive gas, instead of more home grown renewables.

“The power to set a target for 2030 in 2016 means that the target can be decided alongside the 5th Carbon Budget, at a time when the Government will be considering how to set the UK on course to sustainably meet its 2050 target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Committee on Climate Change – who advise the government on what’s required to hit their legally binding carbon targets – have said there is no scenario in which we can stay within carbon budgets without decarbonisation of electricity by 2030, so this is simply a bad excuse. Additionally – as Ed Davey himself has acknowledged – companies considering their energy investments now need to know now what will be the direction of UK energy policy for years to come. They should not have to face years of more uncertainty.

“The Coalition Government remains wholeheartedly committed to being the greenest government ever.”

It is impossible for this to be the greenest government ever if it deliberately rejects both the advice of its own advisers on climate change and the warnings of the clean energy companies who want to create green jobs in this country.

It surely isn’t unreasonable to ask a Lib Dem to vote for a popular Lib Dem policy – one that has the backing of scores of businesses, churches, civil society groups and energy experts?


The vote on including the amendments in the bill is coming up fast. If it’s going to pass, MPs need to add their names to the amendments now. You can see which of our target MPs have signed up so far here. That’s great progress – but we’ve got a long way to go.

In the next few weeks, 38 Degrees members will be meeting their MPs face-to-face to ask them to sign up for a cleaner future. And if enough members chip in, we could commission local opinion polls and full page adverts to make sure MPs feel the heat. Check back here for updates!

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MP Bingo – The Energy Bill and the ‘green jobs’ amendment

March 19th, 2013 by

See which target MPs have signed up to the ‘green jobs’ amendment so far (and email them if they haven’t!):

“… the choice facing Britain is clear. We can embrace the technology of the future, set a target to reduce our present heavy dependence on fossil fuels and upgrade our electricity system. Or we can cling to the combustion-based technologies of the past, gamble the future on assumptions about the availability of abundant cheap gas and slow down the process of decarbonising our economy.”

Tim Yeo MP, former Conservative environment minister

The pressure on MPs to back carbon-free electricity is growing! Thousands of 38 Degrees members have emailed their MPs asking them to sign up to an amendment by Tim Yeo MP that would reintroduce tough decarbonisation targets. Already some key target MPs have said they’ll support it – now we need to build the pressure and make sure we can get enough MPs on side to win.

Tim Yeo’s ‘green jobs’ amendment would make sure the UK is back at the heart of the green energy revolution. If it passes, it would be a huge win for our household bills, our jobs, and our planet. George Osborne thought he’d buried the plan once, but there’s trouble on the horizon. Lots of MPs have said they’ll vote for the amendment to be included in the Energy Bill – but not enough.

If we’re going to win we need to get more MPs on side, and the MPs above are key targets. They’ve spoken publicly about the dangers of climate change. If we put enough pressure on them, we can turn their words into real action.

You can scroll over their faces to see their quotes. Four senior Lib Dems – Tim Farron, Julian Huppert, John Hemming and Martin Horwood – have already said they’ll be supporting the amendment. That’s great news – but now it’s up to us to ensure that every other MP says they’re on board too.

Email your MP now. If they’re on our bingo card above, you can use their quotes to persuade them – but even if they’re not, the amendment needs their support just as much if it’s in with a chance of getting passed. Forward any replies into the office team – and check back here regularly to see who’s signed up!

PS Has an MP on this list publicly supported the amendment? Get in touch so this page can be updated.

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Lib Dems vote for tougher climate action!

September 25th, 2012 by

Great news! After hand delivering hundreds of copies of our climate change petition on Monday morning, the Lib Dems voted strongly in favour of tougher climate action, including backing a 2030 target for carbon-free electricity. It’s a great start, but together we need to keep up the pressure to make sure that George Osborne doesn’t block these new targets.

See below to read more about our petition hand-in at the Lib Dem conference!

On Sunday evening the 38 Degrees team boxed up the 32,000-strong climate change petition and travelled down to ‘sunny’ Brighton to hand in our people powered message to the Lib Dem party.

We hand delivered our huge petition straight to the Climate Secretary Ed Davey, calling on the Lib Dems to take a stand on a climate change and back the motion to get carbon emissions under control by 2030.

David delivering over 32,000 signatures to Climate Secretary Ed Davey

He responded positively to the vast number of signatures supporting tougher climate action. The same day he called on the members of his party to back the vote the next morning and support the 2030 target!

On the day of the climate vote we teamed up with local 38 Degrees members to deliver our people powered  message to the rest of the Lib Dem party.

We were up bright and early in the pouring rain to try and catch voting Lib Dems before they went in to the conference. Due to tough security there was only one main entrance to the conference centre – so we made sure that the 38 Degrees message was the last thing Lib Dems heard before they went in to make their decision.

Armed with our ‘Vote Yes’ flyers we delivered the 38 Degrees message to hundreds of Lib Dem members who passed through our climate change gateway to get inside the conference.

Many Lib Dems responded encouragingly to the thousands who signed the petition urging them to get serious on tackling climate change.

Despite the soggy leaflets and broken umbrellas the team felt confident that our huge climate petition could spur the Lib Dems to vote the right way!

Local 38 Degrees members brave the weather to deliver our climate message to Lib Dems in Brighton

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Will the Lib Dems stop George Osborne?

September 19th, 2012 by

There’s a tug of war going on in government over our climate targets. George Osborne is trying to wreck plans for getting carbon emissions under control. But this week, there’s a real chance we could stop him getting his way.

At the weekend, Lib Dems will travelling to Brighton to meet for their conference. They’ll be voting on plans for the next year – and that includes deciding whether to back tougher climate rules that could stop Osborne’s plans in their tracks.

Lib Dems will be under pressure not to back the tougher rules. Many party leaders won’t want another row with Conservatives in the government. But if they know there are thousands of us backing them to stay strong on climate, they’re much more likely to make a stand.

Can you add your name to the petition now?

To make sure every Lib Dem at the conference knows we want them to stop Osborne’s dangerous climate plans, 38 Degrees members will take our petition right to their door. They’ll be handing a copy to everyone who goes into the conference before the vote, and delivering one to Ed Davey, the climate minister, too.

There’s only one entrance – so our people-powered petition will be hard to ignore. That means most people in conference will have seen our message: Lib Dems – take a stand on climate change.

The vote is a few day away and people will making up their minds now, so we need to move fast. Let’s make this petition as big as possible before it’s delivered to the Lib Dems.

We know that when it comes to convincing politicians to do the right thing, people power works. From stopping the forest sell-off to convincing David Cameron to accept climate targets, 38 Degrees members have played a big role in protecting our planet.

So let’s get together in our thousands and let Lib Dems know we won’t stand for Osborne tearing up climate targets. With a flood of signatures telling them to take a stand, we can make sure the vote swings the right way.

Do you live near Brighton? Would you like to come along with other 38 Degrees members to deliver our climate message? If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch at emailtheteam@38degrees.org.uk and the team can get back to you with some details!

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Climate bust-up: What’s it all about?

August 3rd, 2012 by

Richard George, Greenpeace UK

Over the past two weeks, a row has been raging about the government’s efforts to tackle climate change. Richard George, Climate Campaigner with Greenpeace UK, has written a guest blog for 38 Degrees members as an update on what this row is all about. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Right now, the government is drafting a new law – the Energy Bill – that will decide what the future of our energy supply looks like. This could be a big chance to invest in clean, renewable energy. But Chancellor George Osborne and the Treasury have been interfering.

As it stands, the Energy Bill would encourage a disastrous ‘dash for gas’ that would push up energy bills and threaten our climate. Nick Clegg and the Secretary of State for Energy, Ed Davey, need to stand up to George Osborne and clean up the Energy Bill.

Osborne’s dangerous demands include building more gas-fired power stations. Gas is expensive and is the main reason why energy bills are rising. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable electricity is falling fast as companies develop more innovative ways to harness the energy of wind, waves and the sun. If you wanted to protect households and businesses from rising fuel bills, you’d prioritise energy saving and renewable electricity.

Gas isn’t just costly – it would make it nearly impossible to get the UK’s emissions under control. Although gas is less polluting than coal, it is a lot more polluting than wind, wave and solar electricity. David Kennedy, the head of the Committee on Climate Change (the independent organisation set up by the government to advise them on how best to tackle climate change) says that building loads more gas plants “would be incompatible with the government’s climate change goals.

George Osborne’s obsession with gas would be a disaster for our economy and our climate. Instead of listening to Osborne, the government must commit to cleaning up our electricity supply by 2030.

The Committee on Climate Change says that’s exactly what needs to happen if we’re to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and help stop climate change. Last week, a key group of MPs recommended that a legally-binding target to ‘decarbonise’ electricity should be included in the Energy Bill. The Confederation of British Industry has also called for a target so that businesses have the confidence to invest and grow the green economy.

We can’t stand by whilst George Osborne wrecks our energy supply and our climate – someone needs to step in.

38 Degrees members can help play a big role making sure that the government chooses the right path and commits to emission-free electricity by 2030. If enough of us email Nick Clegg we can make sure he steps in and stands up to George Osborne.

Richard George is a climate campaigner with Greenpeace UK

Thanks Richard! What do you think? What else could we be doing together on energy and climate change? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Climate bust-up

August 1st, 2012 by

Right now, there’s a big political fight raging about the government’s plans on climate change. George Osborne is trying to tear up vital climate targets. Unless someone stops him, he could make it almost impossible for the UK to play our part in tackling climate change.

Nick Clegg could speak up and stop this happening. He’s made countless public commitments on climate. And he’s the only Lib Dem who might have enough power to block George Osborne. Together, we need to convince him to act.

So let’s move fast, and flood Nick Clegg’s office with messages telling him to do the right thing. We can prove that thousands of us want him to stand up to George Osborne and hold firm on tackling climate change.

New businesses have been waiting years for the government’s green light to fund more jobs and cleaner, safer energy. Now, they could be sidelined by George Osborne’s demand to fund more polluting gas plants. The decision could go either way – but if enough of us back Nick Clegg, we can make sure the government makes the right choice for future generations.

Since 38 Degrees started, we’ve been telling politicians to protect our climate. Back in 2009, 1000 38 Degrees members had a conference call with Ed Miliband to tell him we wanted real progress at the Copenhagen climate summit. And just last week, we emailed MPs on the climate change committee and persuaded them to speak out about the latest government plans.

So far, our pressure has paid off. So now let’s do the same again to stop George Osborne tearing up our climate targets.

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