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If They're Serious About Meeting Climate Ambitions, the Goverment Needs to Do Precisely the Opposite of What It Has Announced

24/07/2015 14:11 BST | Updated 24/07/2016 10:59 BST

If this government is serious about meeting its ambitions for wants economic stability and growth, along with, lower energy bills and a better quality of life for 'hardworking' people then it needs to do precisely the opposite of what has been announced over the past few weeks.

Over this period an astonishing number of green measures have been thrown out the window in the last few months. In fact, since the election, it's become frighteningly clear we are moving from the 'greenest government ever' to the 'greyest government ever'.

But this is not the mandate this government put to the country in the general election and runs counter to Amber Rudd's speech today promising serious climate action.

In the last past couple of weeks alone, the government has ditched their two main policies to encourage people to green their homes and communities, the Green Deal scheme to support energy efficiency improvements in homes, and the world-leading target for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016, the Zero Carbon homes plan.

It seems clear the government are giving up on energy efficiency. This would be a false economy. It is a triple-win policy that can bring down bills, cut carbon emissions, and reduce our dependence on energy imports. A new, ambitious programme for warmer homes is sorely needed, and yet we are now headed in exactly the opposite direction.

The government also seem to be doing their utmost to sabotage the cheapest forms of low carbon electricity - onshore wind, followed by solar energy. A few days ago, the government announced new consultations on proposals that will essentially pull the plug on solar subsidies. The timing couldn't be worse as the solar industry is just getting to the point where it will be subsidy free within a few years. But cutting the subsidies now will damage, or even destroy, the young sector in one fell swoop. Government's pro-business, and pro-jobs message will now sound distinctly hollow to those 30,000 people whose jobs in the solar industry will increasingly look insecure, and of course the prospect of the sector creating new jobs has been severely undermined.

The government is repeating a message that it is doing all this to push 'hard working families' fuel bills down. Yet in reality, the scrapping of solar subsidies will save the average family less than the cost of a loaf of bread each year. Not quite the noble endeavour being touted, particularly when compared to the billions of pounds that being poured into the coffers of polluting oil, gas and nuclear companies and that will be propping them up for years to come.

You don't have to be a Hercule Poirot to notice that cash and tax breaks are still very much available for multinational energy companies. But now not so much for schemes that enable and households and communities to create and control their own clean energy supply, lower their demand and waste. This is truly the best way that all families will keep their bills down in the future, and whilst contributing to the growth of the UK economy.

What we've seen over the past few months adds up to nothing less than a full frontal attack on the renewable energy sector. It will have ramifications beyond the UK, if the UK does not have any real credible domestic action to tackle climate change, the government will lose any influence over others at the crucial climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.

Daisy Sands is Head of UK Energy and Climate Change, Greenpeace UK