Former US Vice President says UK needs to take a leading role in delivering ambitious Paris deal, as CBI chief warns recent renewable energy subsidy cuts send "worrying signal" to businesses
Al Gore will today call on the UK government to take a leading role in delivering an "ambitious" climate deal that "unleashes the power of the private sector to create a global clean energy economy".
Speaking at an event later today organised by environmental think tank Green Alliance, the former US Vice President and Nobel Prize winner will join a coalition of business, NGO and political leaders in calling on the UK government to adopt a stronger position on climate change ahead of this December's Paris Summit.
He will join with CBI Director-General John Cridland in aiming thinly veiled criticism at the UK government's recent moves to scale back support for clean energy, with Cridland expected to accuse the government of sending "mixed messages" on green policy that represent a "worrying signal" for businesses.
Gore will urge the UK to build on its previous leadership position on climate policy and push for an ambitious international deal to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon world.
"The United Kingdom's historic legacy of leadership on the most important moral issues faced by humanity, including the climate crisis, is long and has been recognised with respect by the community of nations," he will say.
"It is time for the UK government to honour and live up to that legacy, and return to its global leadership position, domestically and abroad, by supporting an ambitious international agreement in Paris that unleashes the power of the private sector to create a global clean energy economy."
His comments imply the UK government has let its leadership position on climate policy and green investment slip in recent months, following a series of moves by the Conservatives to scrap or water down environmental policies.
Cridland will join Gore in calling on the UK government to reassure investors with a clear message of support for low-carbon growth.
"The green economy is an emerging market in its own right, brimming with opportunity, and the UK has built up real credibility on climate leadership and low carbon investment," he will say. "Yet, with the roll-back of renewables policies and the mixed messages on energy efficiency, the government risks sending a worrying signal to businesses."
He will add that all countries need to "pull in the same direction" at the Paris summit to drive long-term investment in the green economy.
Both Gore and Cridland will argue the UK risks falling behind other countries without stronger action to accelerate the development and deployment of clean technology.
In comments that will be seen as criticism of the government's recent approach Cridland will suggest the UK risks squandering its position as a clean tech hub. "Over many years, the UK has built up real credibility on climate leadership and low-carbon investment," he will say. "This is hard won, but easily lost."
The government has consistently argued proposed cuts to clean energy subsidies are needed to ensure spending on the sector does not breach agreed Treasury targets leading to upward pressure on bills. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd has said the government will develop a new strategy for meeting the UK's carbon targets in a more cost effective manner.
However, Gore and Cridland's intervention follows the publication of a new report from consultancy giant EY, which last week warned the UK had dropped out of the top 10 in its league table ranking countries' attractiveness to renewable energy investors.
Matthew Spencer, director of Green Alliance, said it was critical that the government delivers a more coherent energy strategy. "[The UK is] ahead of the world in bringing down the cost of offshore wind, phasing out the use of coal, and we have an enviable level of agreement between business and NGOs about the need to maintain the UK's low-carbon momentum," he said. "To build on these advantages, the government needs to clear up the confusion about what it is trying to achieve for the UK's energy system, ahead of the Paris conference."
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) defended the government's recent record. "We are pushing for a strong global deal in Paris that creates a level playing field for business and drives innovation," he said. "Our priorities are to reduce emissions in the most cost-effective way and also keeping bills as low as possible for hardworking families and businesses. Government support has already driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly, helping technologies to stand on their own two feet."
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