A slew of green policy reversals has sapped the UK’s hard-won credibility on climate change just when it matters most globally, the head of the country’s biggest business lobby group has warned.
John Cridland, director-general of the CBI, said the moves had sent a “worrying signal” about the UK as it prepared to join nearly 200 countries to strike a UN climate accord in Paris in December.
“Businesses respect the right of an incoming government to reposition its strategy, as long as that strategy is clear,” said Mr Cridland, who will address a London conference on the Paris deal on Tuesday with Al Gore, the former US vice-president, who is a prominent advocate of action on climate change.
But the rollback of renewable subsidies and “mixed messages” on energy efficiency measures announced by ministers since the May election “send a worrying signal about the UK as a place for low-carbon investment”, he told the FT.
“This seemingly weakened commitment risks impacting our standing on the global stage at the exact moment we need to stand up and be counted,” he said.
If negotiators reach a meaningful climate deal in Paris, this could “turbocharge” climate action, such as the renewable energy targets that Mr Cridland said 164 countries had now adopted.
“That’s 164 potential markets worldwide for the UK’s renewable industry,” he said, adding that British companies were already seizing such opportunities by designing wind turbine technology and zero-carbon cities abroad.
Since the election, the government has moved to end zero carbon homes policies and funding for the Green Deal home energy saving programme, while slashing solar and wind farm support.
Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, said many of the moves were needed to protect hard working families from the costs of rising subsidies.