WWF-UK has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to take control of elements within the Conservative Party which are undermining investor confidence, jobs and growth in the green economy.
The campaign group, which took the PM on a fact-finding mission to the Arctic in 2006, called on him to show the leadership on climate change and energy policy that helped the country secure the 2008 Climate Change Act.
The call came as WWF launched a campaign for a strong Energy Bill and for a reassertion of Mr Cameron’s commitment to tackling climate change.
Back in 2006, WWF took the then leader of the opposition to Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic to see first-hand the impacts of climate change.
The trip was symbolised by the famous ‘husky hugging’ photograph, which arguably helped the Conservative leader to detoxify the party’s brand, and led Mr Cameron to make a strong commitment to tackling climate change and make the UK an industrial leader in the race for clean energy.
David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK, said: “On becoming Prime Minister, Mr Cameron suggested he would be the ‘fourth minister’ at the Department of Energy and Climate Change and that his would be the ‘greenest government ever’.
“But since 2010, he seems to have lost his voice. There is currently a complete breakdown in Government energy and climate change policy, sending mixed signals to investors and undermining job creation. David Cameron’s continued silence would be a betrayal not just of the Prime Minister's election promises, but of the UK national interest.”
Several members of the Conservative party, including Chancellor George Osborne and new Energy Minister John Hayes, have significantly undermined investment confidence in the renewable energy sector.
Several major companies have already shelved their planned investment in the UK’s renewable energy supply chain, whilst others are reconsidering their future investment due to the political risk and lack of certainty created.
Yet ironically, the CBI has repeatedly said that the green economy and the renewable energy sector are among the few bright spots for economic recovery in the UK, offering substantial potential for jobs, exports and investment.
WWF is calling today for the Prime Minister to demonstrate unequivocally his leadership on climate change and energy issues and to intervene to stop others in the Conservative Party undermining the clean energy vision he so clearly set out in 2006.
David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK, said: “It’s time for David Cameron to be the Prime Minster he told us all he would be and deliver on his earlier promises. His lack of vocal leadership on climate change and energy is jeopardising some of the most promising green shoots of recovery. The UK needs significant investment in green infrastructure, yet he is letting a rogue pack within his party play politics with such an important issue.”
With the Treasury clearly opposing some key measures needed in the upcoming – and much delayed – Energy Bill, WWF is calling on the Prime Minister to resolve the deadlock and bring his Government together behind a strong Energy Bill.
The Treasury’s intransigence on a target substantially to reduce the UK’s power sector’s carbon emissions by 2030 is one of WWF’s major concerns. The measure is recommended by the independent Committee on Climate Change and supported by major businesses, investors and trade bodies.
David Nussbaum added: “Much of the UK’s ageing power infrastructure needs replacing. As well as a challenge, WWF and other organisations like the CBI see this as an opportunity for the UK economy.
“If the Prime Minister acts decisively he could move the UK towards a carbon free, resilient energy future, with a growing number of highly skilled UK jobs and growing investment - in fact the only reduction would be the country’s reliance on foreign imports of fossil fuels such as gas from Qatar.
“This is the time for the Government to speak with one voice in favour of green infrastructure, and the Prime Minister should provide it.
“David Cameron was key in delivering the Climate Change Act, legislation seen as ground-breaking around the world – yet his inaction now raises questions around his credibility and undermines the effectiveness of the very Act he helped pass through Parliament just four years ago.”