The energy secretary’s much-hyped speech was a spectacular display of governmental cognitive dissonance – saying one thing while acting in an entirely contradictory manner. Amber Rudd offered warm words about “a new energy infrastructure, fit for the 21st century”, yet her department ploughs ahead with firing up outdated high-carbon gas power stations set to burn climate changing fossil fuels for decades to come. Shutting coal power stations is a good move – and campaigners should be applauded for their long-running focus on this important goal – but doing so while promising a wave of new gas power stations simply doesn’t go close to ensuring we meet the energy challenges we face.
Rudd spoke of competitiveness being at the heart of our energy system, yet her government has committed to subsidising outrageously expensive nuclear power stations while slashing support for solar and wind, which are popular, cheaper and faster to deploy. In these crucial weeks ahead of the Paris climate talks the government is compounding the failure of its shortsighted energy strategy. Never has a greater chance for rethinking the way we power our communities been presented to us – yet Rudd and her colleagues look set to squander this unique opportunity by hiding behind hot air and spin while failing to take the urgent action needed to tackle climate change.