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Energy, Climate Change and the Queen's Speech

Today’s Queen’s Speech sets out our early priorities for the new Parliament. DECC’s priorities are clear: keeping the lights on and powering the economy; keeping bills low for families and businesses and getting a climate deal in Paris this year.

The UK is one of the most energy secure countries in the world. The National Grid has the right tools in place to deal with the toughest system conditions - its new services to balance the electricity system meant that we maintained healthy margins throughout last winter. In the medium term we have a Capacity Market to make sure there is enough available to meet future peak electricity demand - last year it produced new investment at good value for money. Longer term we are investing in new energy infrastructure - new nuclear and renewables, as well as exploring for shale gas.

However, even as we cut our carbon emissions over the coming decades we will need oil and gas as part of our energy mix. That includes maximising home grown energy sources rather than relying on imports - and benefitting working people in Britain. The new Energy Bill will boost the UK oil and gas industry by creating an independent regulator for exploration and production from the territorial sea and UK continental shelf. This new approach to industry collaboration (which fully implements last year’s independent Wood Review) will help drive down costs and improve the sector’s efficiency.

As well as helping maintain secure supplies, prolonging the life of this mature oil and gas producing basin will sustain its contribution to our economy bringing revenue to our nation and contributing to growth and employment; the industry in the UK already supports around 375,000 jobs.

The new Bill announced today will also empower local people with a greater say on windfarm applications.

Large scale wind farm applications (those over 50MW) are currently determined by me - the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change - through the planning regime. It’s right that local people should have the power to decide whether they want a wind farm in their area, so we’re devolving powers out of Whitehall. My existing consenting powers in relation to onshore wind will transfer to local planning authorities, making decisions on energy more democratic and giving our communities a direct say on these planning decisions.

Man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats this country and the world faces. The summit in Paris in December is the best opportunity for years to get comprehensive, rules based agreement that keeps the objective of limiting global warming to 2 degrees in reach. The three biggest carbon emitters, the EU, US and China are all determined to get a deal done.

A global deal is the only way we can deliver the scale of action required – and it is strongly in the UK’s interest. A global deal provides the only credible means to leverage more from others and would further drive down the costs of climate action.

So agreeing a global deal is a massive opportunity for us to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change and also to open up new opportunities for our low carbon industries. It’s not just governments who want this deal, its businesses, NGOs and campaign groups both in the UK and internationally.

The UK is already playing its part. Our own emissions are down 30% on 1990 levels, and our carbon budgets keep us on track to deliver our ambitious 2050 targets. We are leading the way in clean technology and innovation, creating new jobs and helping to power our economic recovery.

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  1. Comment by Maureen Parry-Williams posted on

    I sincerely hope that Amanda Rudd is genuine and not using political speak. I voted for the Conservatives because of their commitment to aim to remove subsidies for wind turbines in particular because the Welsh environment is being blighted my these enormous structures.
    Local people (except those who benefit financially) are strongly opposed to the proliferation of these alien structures and their dubious benefits, plus well publicised flaws. Only if these turbines have been proved, beyond any doubt, to be completely safe in all areas should they be allowed on land, for their own use by individuals. Local people should be the ones who are empowered NOT those in authority who are likely to have other political considerations.

    • Replies to Maureen Parry-Williams>

      Comment by Patrick Thomas Sudlow posted on

      Oil and gas industries, along with nuclear have received £trillions, compared to the £1,000s wind has. Oil, gas and nuclear will not reduce our emissions, nor guarantee the UK's energy future. Our Northern European neighbours have led the way and the UK is 30 -40 years behind. This Queen's speech has has condemned the UK, to an environmental and economical disaster. A land unfit for any habitation, just like the Easter Islands!

      • Replies to Patrick Thomas Sudlow>

        Comment by Roger Murray posted on

        I am sorry but this is nonsense.

        We all want to reduce fossil fuel (oil and coal) generated electricity. Realistically that means an energy mix including nuclear which is low to nil CO2 emitting and already provides a good chunk of UK power supply. Reliable baseload power which nuclear provides is essential. I also support renewables but not at the expense of nuclear since they are unreliable. Comparisons with Northern Europe etc are innapropriate- Germany made a political Green-influenced decision to phase out nuclear prematurely and meanwhile its CO2 emissions have soared. Norway has massive hydro power potential. Sweden relies on nuclear also for part of its base load power.

  2. Comment by Paul Watkinson posted on

    Dear Amber, It is great to see that the Conservatives are fulfilling their promise on listening to community views on renewables. I think there is more that the community can do to help reduce energy use and improve their life work balance but it needs to government to provide the environment in which to help it grow. It needs to peovide incentives for reducing travel through home working and encourage carbon friendly energy use in the home. Having studied at Oxford University I like James Martin's view on how to solve the issue of Global Warming with comments from experts in the field

    My own contribution to reducing Global Warming is to provide a free website for communities to share resources and skills so they don't have to travel so far:

    Kind Regards

    Paul Watkinson
    KM2WD Limited
    [Personal details redacted]

  3. Comment by Thomas posted on

    Amber, please watch this!

  4. Comment by Pat posted on

    78% of households in the largest survey of Brecon and Radnorshire were against the spread of wind power, this is the largest seat by area in Wales. Chris Davies was voted in by the people ,many of which want a stopping of the subsidies to on shore wind farms, can you confirm this is going to happen as the manifesto promised?

  5. Comment by Steve Tanswell posted on

    Amber, What promises are the government making on GDHIF and ECO. So far cannot see anything on plans for this parliament and the continuation/reduction/scrapping of GDHIF.
    Please state what plans you have if any as many people rely on these schemes.

  6. Comment by Ryan posted on

    Is there any chance that the small businesses that have been installing the energy saving measures under ECO will ever get paid? How do you plan on meeting the targets when numerous installers are going under as a result of either not getting paid or having to wait months and months for payments? Then we have the ever increasing hoops to jump through and the carbon rates in free fall!

  7. Comment by Glyn Hughes posted on

    You keeping the special assistance and exemption from emission controls for coal plant?

  8. Comment by Rob posted on

    Hi Amber

    If as you say "Man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats this country and the world faces", then why have you not set up a 'Fossil-Free Energy Authority', or something to this effect? This would surely be the best way of encouraging/ensuring the generation of more fossil-free energy (e.g. wind, solar, hydro, tidal and nuclear power), which are widely recognised by scientists as being the best way of 'keeping the lights on' while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions?

    I doubt the Oil and Gas Authority will do much to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that we use, as one of their prime directives is "maximising the economic recovery of offshore oil and gas reserves". Therefore, forgive me if I'm wrong, but it seems that you value making money from fossil fuel reserves more than preventing environmental disaster and the displacement of millions of people around the world due to extreme weather and rising sea levels.

    Please can you create a new authority responsible for actively transferring our energy production from fossil fuels to fossil-free sources, or explain to me why in your opinion this is not the best course of action for our country in terms of energy security, job creation, and tackling climate change?

    Many thanks

  9. Comment by Caja posted on

    Chris Davies was voted in by the people, on a ticket of stopping of the subsidies to on shore wind farms, can you confirm this is going to happen in Wales as the manifesto promised? Chris Davies holds the largest seat by area in Wales, 78% of households in Brecon and Radnorshire (large survey) were against the spread of wind turbines for all of the well documented reasons. Likewise Glyn Davies was voted in on the same ticket in Montgomeryshire, this makes up a huge swath of Wales that is expecting your manifesto promise on the removal of wind farm subsides to be honoured will you be true to your word?

  10. Comment by Stewart Beattie posted on

    Amber. Why is all the new housing being built not as standard have solar panels installed. The cost of installing this equipment on a new home is significantly cheaper than installing later. They are generally acceptable to look at with few people objecting. It seems a no brainer to reduce carbon electricity production.

    • Replies to Stewart Beattie>

      Comment by S.E.Covill posted on

      We do not have the capacity to ensure that there ar no blackouts or brownouts. Nothing has been done in the last 5 years to replace nuclear power stations. The no. of gas installations is not enough to take the place of the coal fired power stations.
      Maintenance work has not been done. A recent Brown Out damaged many televisions, washing machines, commputers and other equipment.
      No proper investigation has been done in 5 years to see the effects of fracking.

  11. Comment by Guy Smith posted on

    I am concerned that no mention has yet been made of what direction this government is going to take on the retrofitting of energy saving measures to the existing building stock. The Green Deal was a promising idea that was sadly bogged down with red tape, is anything going to be done to revitalise the scheme? Also the ECO scheme, whilst funding a lot of installs, has been beset by problems, not least with the level of uncertainty created for for businesses trading in this area by the rapidly changing legislation.

  12. Comment by Bryn Kewley posted on

    I do hope all the excellent comments above are addressed.

  13. Comment by David posted on

    Dear minister

    The UK desperately needs private sector investment to upgrade our grid and generating infrastructure.

    It is with some alarm I read that a company has already stopped a £31m share issue this week on rumours of subsidies beet cut prematurely to wind power. How can the government expect private companies to put millions of pounds of development money into long term projects to have the ground rules changed mid project. There is a real risk the UK will be seen as less attractive to investors and this will result in the cost of capital and consumers bills going up as assets will be more expensive! There is also a real concern that the wind industry employs thousands of people across the UK and the rumoured measures would cripple this industry and put the jobs of thousands of hard working people at risk.

    Please can you set out a clear policy for the UK as soon as possible - the market is already losing confidence just weeks into a conservative administration.



  14. Comment by Nick Mackay posted on

    Dear Amber

    Your Party pledged in its Manifesto to, “end any new public subsidy for onshore wind farms.” However that Manifesto also promises to “meet our climate change commitments, cutting carbon emissions as cheaply as possible.”
    Onshore wind power is demonstrably cheaper than nuclear power. This was confirmed by the first round of auctions for Contracts for Difference, decided in February this year. It is also significantly more cost effective than any other renewable energy technology.
    The Manifesto pledges are therefore contradictory, assuming wrongly that onshore wind power is receiving a subsidy that is distorting an otherwise free market. In fact, other forms of energy, including fossil fuels, already receive more government support than onshore wind. The IMF Working Paper, published in May 2015, confirms this. On shore wind power only needs support because all other forms of energy are already heavily subsidised.

    I respectfully suggest that there are two conclusions that can be drawn:
    1. Were the entire energy market free of subsidies and tax reliefs wind farms would more than hold their own.
    2. If the Government abolishes support for the most cost effective low carbon technology then this will result in higher energy bills for all of us in meeting our climate change commitments.

  15. Comment by Andrew Smith posted on

    The Conservative Party's manifesto pledge to support the lowest forms of carbon free electricity generation, directly contradicts its other manifesto pledge to end subsidy for wind farm development (only). I could better rationalise the commitment to end subsidy for on shore wind farm development if other forms of electricity were also subject to subsidy review, including for example the significant tax breaks for the oil and gas industries, the £92.50MWh agreed for electricity from the proposed Hinkley Point Nuclear plant (more likely to be ~£125MWh on first generation, taking account of indexation) including underwiting the insurance costs and paying for decommissioning, and the £119Mhr to be paid for off shore wind following the first round of CfD. If the Conservative Government genuinely believe in free market and fairness, why do they propose to interfere in this market so directly? On shore wind by comparison will be paid £79MWh based on the last round of CfDs, much cheaper than other forms of low carbon generation, good news for the consumer. Given a level playing field, on shore wind would more than hold its own. The only residual environmental effect from a carefully designed wind farm is the way it looks (no emissions to atmosphere, no mess to clean up after use and largely recyclable) and DECCs own polls repeatedly show that those that don't like the look of windfarms are in the minority. If the Conservatives are to meet their manifesto pledge of supporting the lowest forms of low carbon electricity generation, they must embrace on shore wind as an important part of that pledge. Why should the minority who don't like the look of turbines dictate that the majority will pay higher electricity bills.

  16. Comment by Christopher Fryer posted on

    Please will you join the Global Apollo Programme and agree to commit 0.02% of GDP to renewable energy R&D?

  17. Comment by Tony Hamilton posted on

    Congratulations on your appointment. I hope that when you say that "man-made Global Warming/Climate Change is one of the most serious threats faced by this country and the world", you really do mean this. Yet a huge proportion of our citizens do not recognise this (Including many members of the Conservative Party and many MPs). Isn't it time that your department and the government addressed this problem by mounting a public information programme to combat the widespread mis-information that produces confusion and scepticism.
    You also continue to talk about the need to keep the 2 degree objective within reach. Climate science predictions are not absolutes they are couched in the language of probabilities. It is already more probable than not that we will breach the 2 degree temperature rise and there are significant probabilities that the rise will be considerably higher. This should make us much more serious about taking real actions.
    Giving great supporting to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, while giving little support to renewables is madness.
    Similarly giving local communities greater say over wind farm applications, given the high level of public scepticism over the seriousness of the problems, and the huge NIMBYism of local communities is also disasterous. We need wind as one of the available mature renewable technologies. This will inhibit its implementation. Wider public understanding might enable you to reverse this decision. NIMBYism means that local communities oppose power stations (particularly Nuclear), New towns and big housing estates, airports, major roads and rail links, etc. and also windfarms. It is necessary for national government to take these sort of decisions in the national interest.
    We do need global deals, but should not sit back for these to solve the problem; unfortunately short-sighted and short term national interests have always meant that these are inadequate. The best thing the UK could and should do would be to set out to be an exemplar - demonstrating what is required.

  18. Comment by Mike Dinmore posted on

    It would be very helpful to the retro-fit industry if the government's position on GDHIF was made clear as tens of thousands of jobs are at stake as well as hundreds of millions of pounds I nvestment by the industry
    The last government set aside £450 million so that money is already allocated to GDHIF so should not be cut during DECC's pre-budget haggling with the Exchequer. DECC announced GDHIF would be released quarterly and so another tranche is due by end of June and yet DECC remain silent on the future plans.
    Mike Dinmore
    Director at

  19. Comment by John Shoesmith posted on

    You state that 'The UK is already playing its part. Our own emissions are down 30% on 1990 levels, and our carbon budgets keep us on track to deliver our ambitious 2050 targets.'

    In fact the reduction since 1990 is primarily due to converting power stations from gas to coal, from deindustrialisation - i.e. exporting the pollution to China, and to changes in waste management. The Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change - in its last report, said that we were only achieving one quarter of what we need to achieve our climate goals.

    I strongly suspect that there is no robust plan to achieve our goal of 80% reductions by 2050. There certainly seems to be little attempt to take monitoring seriously. If there had been a robust plan then the reduction in deployment of on-shore windfarms would have been accompanied by an explanation of the changes required to compensate for that reduction - additional nuclear or off-shore windfarms, or energy efficiency measures. The cost delta would also have been made clear.

    The alternative view is that the government plans to let things drift until the climate commitment becomes unachievable.

    In either case we, the citizens, and more especially our children who will suffer the consequences, have a right to know what is going on!

  20. Comment by DECC Comms posted on

    Thank you for your comments. More information regarding onshore wind is available in the announcement we made on the 18th June.

    The Chancellor’s budget on the 8 July will determine financial priorities for the department going forward. More detail will be available soon but our priorities remain clear: keeping the lights on and powering the economy; keeping bills low for families and businesses and getting a climate deal in Paris this year.

  21. Comment by Mark Young posted on


    We are the country that started, and got rich from, the Industrial Revolution.

    Or Industrial Experiment, as I see it.

    We should also be leading in the development of technology that will not alter the balance of nature, as our previous inventions seem to have done.

    I feel we have a moral responsibility.