Energy secretary Amber Rudd has claimed that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union will not affect the country’s commitment to clean energy, and revealed the government’s response to the fifth carbon budget will be published as scheduled tomorrow morning.
Rudd addressed an audience at the ongoing Business & Climate Summit this morning to make the statement, her appearance only confirmed late yesterday afternoon.
Rudd spoke of the government’s commitment to delivering “the best outcome for the British people” following last Thursday’s vote, adding that the outcome must include “the secure, affordable, clean energy our families and businesses need”.
She said that commitment had not changed as a result of the referendum and reiterated the government’s stance that the climate challenges the UK faces “remain the same”.
“Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security.
“And the UK will not step back from that international leadership. We must not turn our back on Europe or the world,” she said.
Rudd also took the opportunity to confirm that the government will publish its response to the fifth carbon budget tomorrow morning, as scheduled.
Following the Committee on Climate Change’s publication of the budget last year, the government was facing a statutory deadline of 30 June by which it had to announce its response. Failure to do so could have left the government facing penalties.
While Rudd provided no indication as to whether or not the government is to accept the fifth carbon budget or challenge some of its findings, there has been considerable support from within the Tory backbenches to support its conclusions.
The budget was published in November last year and called for greater deployment of renewables between 2028 and 2032 across multiple sectors including heat, transport and the private sector, and not just electricity generation.
At the time of its publication Lord Deben, chairman at the CCC, said that it was crucial the government took the “next important step” to decarbonising the UK economy by legislating for its latest budget next year.
Further detail of how the government intends to meet the fifth carbon budget, pending its response, will be revealed before the end of the year.
Rudd’s speech was broadly well received by those in attendance, those watching and on social media afterward.
Sue Armstrong Brown, policy director at Green Alliance, said that Rudd’s speech “embodied the best of the Conservative political tradition”.
“Green Alliance welcomes Rudd’s assurances that the UK’s energy priorities remain the same and that our country’s renewables sector will continue to grow in the years to come. The first measure of success will be the government’s adoption of the fifth carbon budget, promised tomorrow. This must be quickly followed by a robust carbon plan, to improve investors’ damaged confidence and to enable the UK to attract much needed infrastructure investment,” she added.
— ACE (@uk_ace) June 29, 2016
— Gregory Barker (@GregBarkerUK) June 29, 2016