What's £10 million between friends?

Posted by jamie — 13 October 2006 at 8:00am - Comments

solar.jpg From BBC News earlier today:

A £10m drive to add wind turbines to public sites and to promote renewable energy is being funded by cuts to other green projects, it has been claimed. The Partnership for Renewables scheme will work with private firms to put the turbines on sites such as hospitals. But the Lib Dems and the Energy Saving Trust say money from insulation and double-glazing schemes will pay for it. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the sum was never allocated to a specific project.

So despite making the right noises in a bland New Labour kind of way, David Miliband is simply juggling his budgets to make climate change less of a burden to the Treasury.

What's happened is that the government announced £20 million would be spent on energy efficiency - not nearly enough, but it's a start. Then Miliband piped up at the Labour conference to promise a £10 million spend on wind power, solar generation and the like. Fantastic. Now it seems that half of that £20 million for energy efficiency was destined for renewables all along.

Apart from losing £10 million of government money to tackle climate change, you may be wondering what the problem is. But it's not just a case of being short changed financially because the message implicit in this decision speaks volumes about the approach of many towards the whole issue. Of course, wind, solar and the rest of it are are vitally important if we're going to head off disaster on an unimaginable scale. But they're going to mean bugger all if the mechanisms aren't in place to persuade or force everyone (yes, I know we all hate being forced to do things but sometimes it's the only way to get anything done) to use less energy in the first place.

Any renewable projects that aren't backed up with a major offensive against needless and thoughtless energy usage are simply going to give the impression we can simply use more without weaning us off our addiction to what's primarily causing the problem in the first place - oil, coal and all those other fuels that have been locked out of the carbon cycle for millions of years.

By the way, if anyone's going past the Defra building on their way home tonight, please check to see if all the lights are turned off, computer monitors are dark and TVs aren't playing to an empty room. And then use Miliband's blog to tell him where he's going wrong. Maybe if there's an efficiency problem on his own doorstep, Miliband won't be so keen to fudge the figures in future.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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