Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tory Green Policy, It’s Awful

The Conservatives are making some very bold statements about their new Green plans, a more detailed PDF can be found here, the guts of the plans come in the form of ten policies which they call on the government to adopt. They believe that these policies will bring a total of £30 billion in private sector investment (although they neglect to mention that this will over the next 10 years), they also claim that none of these policies would add to government debt.

Let's take a look shall we..

1. A £6,500 energy efficiency entitlement for every home in Britain
This one makes sense although two things strike me as wrong about it, the first is the numbers, the Tories assume that it will bring £20 billion in private sector investment over the next 10 years based on an average of 1 million homes per year spending an average of £2,000. There are around 25 million homes in Britain, 7 million count as hard to treat. Only 70% are owner occupied, so that we can arrive at a ballpark of 12.6 million homes ((25m - 7m) x 70%) and of these, some will have already had an energy saving measures installed. There's nothing wrong with the aim here, it's just that this one policy gives 2/3 of the £30billion headline and the the numbers that figure is based on seem optimistic.

The other point to make here is that this energy efficiency entitlement will have to be paid for, how will it not raise government debt?

2. Fund at least three Carbon Capture and Storage projects
This one, I have to admit is entirely sensible, it takes existing money (£3billion) from the EU Emissions trading Scheme and put's forward a sensible way to spend it.

3. Smart Meters
Another good innovation, but who pays for it? How will this not cost the government money?

4. Bring forward the introduction of Feed in Tariffs
Another good idea, but this appears to be an exercise in policy stealing, this policy has already been legislated for in the Energy Act 2008, the government is committed to bringing it in by 2010.

5. Create a national recharging network for electric vehicles
Again, a good idea, I fully support the introduction of electric vehicles, but how do we pay for it? The Tories claim that this will be funded by offering energy companies incentives? I can't really think of an incentive that doesn't involve spending money.

6. Begin work on a new high speed rail network
Another good idea, but once again, how do we pay for it? The Tories seem to believe the private sector finance pixies will pay for it.

7. Invest in the creation of an electricity internet
Misleading headline here, since the actual plan is for upgrading the technology and efficiency of the national grid? Use of the word "invest" generally means spending money.

8. Provide government loan guarantees to companies investing in green technologies and create the world’s first environmental trading market
Loan guarantees aren't government debt's, they're far worse since they essentially mean that the government takes the risk and the bank takes the profit on the loan. They have been used as an emergency measure to encourage overcautious banks to lend, but should be used for little more than that. Government guarantees of this sort would allow banks to lend risk free to green technology companies with little way to hold the companies or the banks to account.

As for an environmental trading market, how would it be different to any other trading market?

9. Create a network of Marine Energy Parks
I'll include the quote for this one:
The government should instigate a network of large scale Marine Energy Parks
around Britain’s shoreline. Like science parks today, these offshore parks will
help clusters of innovation grow and will accelerate the development of new wind
wave and tidal technologies.

I have to say that I'm not even sure what it means, the only thing I can say is that it would cost money.

10. Build an offshore DC cable network
The intention here is that it will allow offshore renewables to connect more easily to the national grid, I've got no idea what the technical issues are but I'm sure that if it's possible it will once again cost money.

So, there you have it, Conservative environmental policy in a nutshell. As I read it I found it hard to believe that this was serious policy. Despite a claim that these policies will cost nothing, several have a clear and obvious cost attached, a number are optimistic in their assumptions and some are really just plain mad. What is seriously wrong is that the writers of this drivel are in with a good chance of forming the next government.

Crossposted on Common Endeavour

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