Renewables and ice-cream are both incredibly popular. It’s quite possible that renewable energy is even more popular than ice-cream. According to some stats on the internet just three quarters of people eat the frozen stuff, while according to the government’s official tracking polls four-fifths of people support renewables.
You’d never know though, would you?
The government remains dogged in its pursuit of polluting fossil fuel projects like fracking, and committed to drilling every drop of oil it can.
Years of campaigns by newspapers, climate sceptics and a small but vocal minority have created the impression that solar panels and wind turbines are about as welcome as someone else’s holiday pictures. But it’s just not true. In fact only 1% of the British public is seriously opposed. That’s not to say turbines and fields of panels should go everywhere, and for sure they need to be sensitively sited, but basically, people like them.
This is good news. Because if the challenge facing us is urgent so is the opportunity.
To do our bit to fix climate change we need to move to an almost zero carbon electricity system by the end of the next decade, and we need to keep the grid working while we do it. We also know that the UK needs to reboot its economy on more sustainable lines, providing jobs fit for the 21st century. Renewables can deliver these, and more – they can provide the UK with a mission. As our country seeks a new direction in the face of Brexit and a fast changing global economy, championing the rapid shift to a renewable, low carbon economy would be a powerful, positive marker to lay down: one which would benefit not only the environment, but the economy, too.
This is because renewables are increasingly the cheapest options available. New onshore wind and large-scale solar are probably the cheapest new energy sources of any kind, while offshore wind is catching up rapidly. In fact the most recent offshore wind farms to be approved are going to provide energy at a fraction of the new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point. It’s not just Friends of the Earth saying this. Almost everyone is. The Government’s official Committee on Climate Change recently published an article which said: “renewables do or will offer the lowest cost of electricity over their lifetime of all generating options”.
In fact it’s a global revolution. From India to the USA, from Chile to the Gulf, wind and solar are setting new records for cheap power, and getting huge investment.
The transition to this new economy will bring jobs and investment. Globally the renewables sector sees almost $300 billion invested per year. And things are really just getting started, other government pet energy projects like fracking just don’t compare. It’s hard to overstate how big the global renewable and related storage and smart technology business is going to be. Think of oil and gas and telecoms and IT combined. Trillions. Why wouldn’t you make the change?
So far the UK has actually done okay. The last few governments have made crucial investments. The country is a world leader in offshore wind. From just a tiny percentage ten years ago we now get nearly a third of our electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar. But there is a big problem looming ahead. Running scared of a tiny minority over the last few years the UK government has back-tracked from a previously positive position and cut off support for onshore wind and solar power, locking the cheapest sources of energy out of the market. Rooftop solar too has been hit while communities remain largely ignored in the transition. It’s costing us money, and means the UK risks losing out to other countries.
It’s time for a change. By decisively turning its back on fossil fuels, including risky and incredibly unpopular fracking, and going all out for renewables the UK would firmly establish itself at the fore-front of one of the most important changes happening in the world right now, and despite what a few dinosaurs might say, they would be thanked for doing it.
So enjoy your ice-cream, and support renewables.
Suggest a correction