Friday, October 24, 2008

Green energy revolution needed to help the poorest - Clegg

In a speech to the British Wind Energy Association conference last Wednesday, Nick Clegg called for the way people are charged for energy to change, arguing social tariffs are essential to cutting fuel bills.

He set out his vision for radically rewriting the rules on how energy is used and created, calling for a massive expansion in renewable electricity to create a post-fossil fuel economy, protecting the poorest from the volatility of the oil and gas markets.

Developing a ‘supergrid’ in the North Sea to massively upgrade the National Grid and connect it to continental Europe is an example of the ambitious green plans needed to create jobs and make energy cheaper.

Nick Clegg said:

"The green agenda is a social justice agenda.

"We need to tackle energy use in a way that helps the worst off and rewards energy efficiency.

"Helping people on low incomes to insulate their homes is one way of doing that. Another way is through social tariffs.

"Customers should pay more the more energy they use, with protection for vulnerable households that need a lot of energy."

Setting out how investment in renewable energy will spur growth and
create jobs, he went on:

"For many of the people who are struggling to make ends meet, climate change will seem a secondary concern.

"So it is up to us to show that fighting for prosperity and fighting for the planet are part of the same battle.

"It is madness to see some sort of trade off between fixing the economy and protecting the environment.

"The road to economic recovery has got to be green."

Speaking about a ‘supergrid’ in the North Sea, he said:

"The existing grid is old fashioned and inefficient. We need to create the infrastructure for a supergrid across the North Sea.

"Building interconnectors down from Scotland to the South of England and then across to the Dogger Bank. Which - through partnerships with our neighbours - could then be developed into a Europe-wide supergrid.

"These are ambitious plans, I don’t deny it. But ambition is precisely what we need. The new grid would meet future demands in a way that is more efficient, more reliable, less harmful and ultimately cheaper.

"It would also increase the demand for wind turbines built in UK docks, creating jobs in some of the UK’s most deprived communities - such as parts of Hull and Newcastle."
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