Owen Paterson

Owen Paterson’s speech on abandoning the 2050 climate change targets – full text

Tonight former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson gave the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s annual lecture. Here’s how he said we should go about ‘Keeping the Lights On’:

I would like to thank Lord Lawson and the Global Warming Policy Foundation for inviting me to deliver the annual lecture – an important event in the calendar.

As a member of the Cabinet for four years I supported Coalition energy policy. However I have become increasingly aware from my own constituency and from widespread travel around the UK of intense public dissatisfaction with heavily subsidized renewable technologies in particular onshore wind.

I have used the last three months since leaving the Cabinet to learn more about the consequences of this policy. And what I have unearthed is alarming.

Our current policy will cost £1,300bn up to 2050. It fails to meet the very emissions targets it is designed to meet. And it fails to provide the UK’s energy requirements.

I will argue that current energy policy is a slave to flawed climate action. It neither reduces emissions sufficiently nor provides the energy we need as a country.

I call for a robust, common sense energy policy that would encourage the market to choose affordable technologies to reduce emissions, and give four examples:

  • promotion of indigenous shale gas
  • large scale localised Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
  • small modular nuclear reactors
  • rational demand management

The vital importance of affordable energy

But first, let us consider what is at stake. We now live in an almost totally computer-dependent world. Without secure power the whole of our modern civilisation collapses: banking, air traffic control, smart phones, refrigerated food, life-saving surgery, entertainment, education, industry and transport.

We are lucky to live in a country where energy has been affordable and reliable.

Yet we cannot take this for granted.

While most public discussion is driven by the immediacy of the looming 2020 EU renewables target; policy is actually dominated by the EU’s long-term 2050 target.

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