Richard North, 20/06/2012  

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An interesting sign of the times comes in the Failygraph op-ed today, as no less than the mighty Benedict Brogan stoops to the level of us lesser mortals to discuss windmills.

This comes on the back of a story heralding a government intention to cut subsidies by up to 25 percent for onshore installations, the deed to be announced in the forthcoming Energy Bill.

Existing bird choppers – of which there are about 3,000 in the UK – are unlikely to be affected in the short to medium term, as these are already locked into lucrative supply contracts, to which subsidies are attached. But the cut will affect the erection of new turbines, of which a notional 4,000 more are planned.

Given that the offshore programme is not exactly galloping ahead, this makes it almost certain that the government will fail to meet its 2020 renewable energy target, thus falling foul of its own and EU targets.

How appropriate it is then that Geoffrey Lean in the same paper is lamenting the failure of the Earth Summit in Rio to prepare anything other than an "unprecedently weak" set of conclusions. After the brave new world of 1992, this marks another stage in the decline of the high-level green agenda.

The UK, of course, is not alone in clawing back ground from the Greens. In Germany, there are complaints that the "energy revolution", although hardly begun, is already running out of steam. There is, says Spiegel, a lack of political decisiveness and companies are complaining of a dearth of incentives to invest billions in necessary infrastructure.

Consumers, on the other hand, are being swamped with meaningless corporate greenwash, while the flagship EU carbon trading system is collapsing and, to add insult to injury, there is talk of the EU rebranding gas as "low carbon" energy.

As the great climate change fantasy declines in intensity, the greens are at last on the back foot. Even the intervention of the famous Nick Clegg isn't helping them, as Brogan realises there might be votes in cheap electricity.

Switching off subsidies for wind farms puts clear blue water between the Tories and the Lib Dems, says Brogan. And if played right, it could put Mr Cameron on the side of a global energy revolution that promises to keep the lights on, lower the cost to voters, and energise his electoral prospects when he most needs it.

And if the chatterati see it in these terms, the greens have nowhere to go.


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