Lord Deben backs renewable energy initiatives, will the Vic opposition?

The UK’s head climate advisor and former conservative member of the House of Lords, Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben, has backed government initiatives to grow renewable energy at the All Energy conference in Melbourne.

Support for renewable energy policies from a prominent conservative politician demonstrates that the Matthew Guy-led opposition can support pragmatic policy offerings to rollout renewables.

Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben describes policies to grow renewable energy using mechanisms such as ‘contracts for difference’ as a good “interim” measure (in lieu of carbon pricing). The David Cameron government taking this approach to increase solar photovoltaic, onshore and offshore wind energy generation in the United Kingdom.

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With the Andrews government’s Renewable Energy Action Plan now in development, and ‘contracts for difference’ emerging as a key mechanism to build more renewables, Yes 2 Renewables asked Lord Debnam for his view at the All Energy conference.

Leigh Ewbank, Y2R coordinator:

Lord Debnam, the Victorian government has committed to two Renewable Energy Targets to grow the sector. One of the mechanisms on the table is Contracts for Difference which has been used by the Cameron government in the UK. Do you think that Renewable Energy Targets and those types of mechanisms are something conservative politicians in Victoria should be supporting?

Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben:

We (the UK) supported [Contacts for Difference] on the basis that you can’t reform the system over night. So we produces the Electricity Act, which made this possible and it’s the very basis for how we are proceeding now. It isn’t an ideal system, but it is better than any other alternative until we get a proper pricing system for carbon.

I want a proper pricing system for carbon. I’ve just been appointed the advisor to the United Nations on this very issue of pricing for carbon. I don’t care whether you call it a cap-and-trade system or whether you call it a tax, or whether you do it this way of that way. The important thing is that when I buy energy which is being created by fossil fuels I should pay the full cost. And that’s such a simple concept, but it’s the only one that will in the end win because it opens every opportunity for innovation. When you know you’ve got to pay the proper price, people will find–first of all–cleaner ways of using fossil fuels, then they will find alternatives, and the whole thing begins to be a dynamic operation.

Before you get to that you may have to have an interim situation. And I think Contracts for Difference is probably the best thing that’s come out so far.

As a secretary in the Margaret Thatcher and John Major governments, Lord Debnem’s conservative credentials cannot be questioned. So it’ll be interesting to see whether Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy and shadow renewable energy minister David Southwick follow the lead of Lord Deben and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Victorian opposition seems to have turned over a new leaf when it comes to renewable energy–a welcome change from the Baillieu and Napthing era that will be remembered for introducing the world’s most-restrictive laws for wind farms.

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In a recent visit to the Australian capital, opposition leader Matthew Guy cited renewable energy as one of three key issues discussed with new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Yes 2 Renewables have long stated that policies to grow renewable energy and jobs is something all political parties can support.

The opposition can give substance to its pro-renewable energy rhetoric by supporting achievable and ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Targets. Cross-party support for renewable energy policy will be welcomed by the community.

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