Is it Time the People Took Back their Power?

The Government’s plans to cut Feed in Tariffs for renewables in the New Year by as much as 87% has caused a good deal of consternation and bafflement. Many have seen it as tantamount to cutting off the blood supply to a valuable industry that is beginning to thrive and make a real difference to the future energy needs of the UK.

It has also given rise to various conspiracy theories concerning the morals of a Tory Cabinet who are charged with having more interest in fossil fuels, nuclear power and maintaining the energy status quo than many consider healthy.  One of the reasons that the Government might well be getting cold feet over the energy agenda is the development of more and more community projects that could well see an end to the monopoly operated by the big six energy companies.

Clean energy is taking off and some major players are starting to get worried.

According to the Guardian this week, the people (that’s you and me) quite reasonably want to take back their power supply. The local council in Nottingham has been working hard to get round current energy legislation – most of which has been developed through the narrow minded portal of the big six – in an attempt to end fuel poverty and create community energy projects that could well change the local landscape for good.

They are not the only ones. In towns and cities across the UK community projects are beginning to pop up as people realise they like the idea of renewables and they also love the notion of community ownership. Whilst the Government are perhaps banking on most of the noise coming from the renewables industry in the lead up to the January deadline for cutting the Feed in Tariff, they may have misjudged how committed the general population is to cleaner and more sustainable energy production.

Taking a Leaf Out of Holland’s Book

The Netherlands might be the inspiration that the great British public needs to realise that governments can be held to account. 886 ordinary Dutch people took their complaint to the courts and sued their government recently. What was even more remarkable was that they actually won. The reason for the case? The people believed that the government wasn’t taking its climate change targets seriously and need to be held to account. The judge in The Hague agreed with them.

This is a landmark judgement that could see similar cases rising up all over the world as the general population loses patience with government’s who have persistently dragged their feet over climate change. The interesting point is that the people who brought the case were not composed of the usual suspects of sandal wearing hippy types (as some media outlets would lead us to believe) but a group of entrepreneurs, teachers and students.

It’s not just the UK and the Netherlands. A number of governments are falling behind on their commitments to tackling climate change and the renewables agenda. Australia were reported to be cutting back last year and Pakistan has recently performed a u-turn on its own policy. The US has gone a long way to moving towards energy independence but a lot of this had depended on embracing a controversial fracking agenda that many still see as damaging.

What the Netherlands case shows is that the people can have an influence on the renewables agenda and hold their politicians to account.

What Happens Now?

On the surface, the attack on Feed in Tariffs by the Government is a simple cost saving exercise. They can cut millions, if not billions, off the deficit by curtailing this particular subsidy. Underlying that, however, is the effect that it is going to have on the burgeoning renewables industry, putting the green agenda back a few good years when it should be pushing forward and making us greener and more independent.

According to Green Technica:

“Failing to grow a country’s renewable energy industry will only yield ever-increasing electricity bills as the need to pay for the dying fossil fuel industry will only continue to grow.”

In truth, the industry on its own can bring a certain degree of pressure but it requires the great British public to voice its opinion if the Government is going to change its mind.

There’s no doubt that we like and may even love renewables in the UK. Now might be the right time to show it. If you are against the plan to cut FiT for renewables, then add your name to the petition below.



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