George Osborne jumps on the 'green bills' bandwagon
- 03 Oct 2011, 15:00
- Robin Webster
Chancellor George Osborne has name-checked the impact of green
measures on energy bills in his speech at the Conservative Party
BusinessGreen has called a "potentially explosive
intervention", Osborne effectively promised that the UK would not
take the lead in Europe in reducing carbon emissions - and laid the
blame for rising energy bills at the door of "a decade of
environmental laws and regulations".
"Now we know that a decade of
environmental laws and regulations are piling costs on the energy
bills of households and companies. Yes, climate change is a man
made disaster. Yes, we need international agreement to stop
it. Yes, we must have investment in greener energy. And that's
why I gave the go ahead to the world's first Green Investment
Bank. But Britain makes up less than 2% of the world's carbon
emissions to China and America's 40%. We're not going to save
the planet by putting our country out of business. So let's at
the very least resolve that we're going to cut our carbon emissions
no slower but also no faster than our fellow countries in
Europe. That's what I've insisted on in the recent carbon
This gives an insight into the kind of arguments that are going
on inside the Cabinet and between the Treasury and the Department
of Energy and Climate Change - and also into the political impact
of attacks by the media on the costs of green energy measures.
As Carbon Brief has documented, many of these attacks are based
on numbers which are unfounded, misrepresented or based on dubious
sources. These have included:
- The Daily Mail
claimed in a front-page headline and a series of articles that
'green measures' were adding £200 to an average household energy
bill. The claim was based on estimates by the climate skeptic
think-tank the GWPF, but no other source was provided. After Carbon
Brief submitted a complaint to the PCC, the Mail printed a correction to
the figure and withdrew
the main article on the issue.
- The Mail
suggested that an average energy bill would double over the
next five years, rising by £1000 to around £2000 "to fund a switch
to green energy and build new nuclear power stations". This figure
came from a
report by Unicredit bank which is not publicly available, which
the authors would not discuss, and which contained no further
detail about how the figure was calculated.
- The Daily Telegraph claimed
in a front-page headline that green energy measures would add
£300 to energy bills by 2020. The £300 figure, however, was based
on a confusion between energy and electricity.
The Guardian has corrected their coverage of this story, but
the Telegraph has not.
- The Mail then
claimed that green measures are adding £300 to energy bills now
- although in the same edition of the paper they stated (correctly)
that Ofgem's figures show that the actual figure is about £85.
- The Mail has also claimed that "the green tax con" is "costing
families £500". This figure used an out of date methodology as we
The TaxPayers' Alliance responded to our blog
here, but the Huffington Post then laid out further criticisms
of the calculation
It is unclear what Osborne really meant - as under the UK
Climate Change Act the UK is already legally committed to cutting
emissions by 30 percent by 2022 and 50 percent by 2025, in contrast
to the EU commitment of a 20 percent cut by 2020. His speech shows
however that the figures being bandied around by sections of the
media are having a political impact.