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Greenest Government Ever? Now That's What I Call Crap

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One dictionary defines "crap" as vulgar slang for "something of extremely poor quality". That's a fair description for this government's pledge to be "the greenest government ever" - and of its energy policy, or rather failure to match the urgent need to have an energy policy.

I try to avoid using vulgar slang in public discourse, but it seems appropriate since the prime minister has used it to describe a modest little programme insulating old people's homes and replacing their inefficient boilers, helping the poor pay their bills and helping to build renewable energy generators.

And it's telling that it was a Tory source that gave this quote to the (Tory-friendly) Sun. Some Tories at least clearly thought this would play well as a counterweight to the Labour Party's price freeze plan. It's not even hard to imagine that the source thought this earthy language would help to tackle the Tory's self-identified image problem.

The argument for the approximate £112 that a collection of very modest measures put on the average dual fuel bill has been well put elsewhere - the point made is that in the end this will save billpayers, and particularly the poorest, money, as well as creating jobs and cutting carbon emissions.

At one level, however, Mr Cameron is right - what we have now, put in place by his coalition government, is an inadequate, inefficient, insincere attempt to tackle our energy needs. Labour, in its plan for a price freeze, is also right to identify that one source of our problem is the oligopolistic place of the 'Big Six' energy firms and their giant profits (although they didn't go as far as Caroline Lucas's 2012 private members' bill that called for a price cap and windfall tax on energy company profits).

What neither party is identifying or acting on is the need for a transformational programme to slash our need for energy, and cut our bills for ever. It's been left to a coalition of charities to devise the Energy Bill Revolution, which could slash our bills and our horrific toll of excess winter deaths, create up to 200,000 jobs, and cut our carbon emissions, simply by treating our poor quality, expensive-to-heat homes and bringing them up to top standards.

Instead we've had the government bouncing from one bad idea to the other: notice how its rampant enthusiasm for shale gas as "fairy dust" solution for all of our energy needs has gone quiet? We haven't heard Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey expounding his "love" for shale gas for some time now.

That's after the Department for Energy and Climate Change showed spirit in resisting pressure to back Mr Cameron's claim that this would produce cheap energy - although it really only had to point to the simple fact that gas might be cheap in America's isolated market, but it wouldn't be in our globally-connected island. And after a Harvard University study pointed out the many ways in which European shale gas prospects are far lower than those in the US.

This, while we're being left behind as much of the rest of the developed world (and China) powers ahead with renewable energy sources, which provide the opportunity to develop new technologies, new jobs, and an energy source for which we know what the "fuel" will cost forever - nothing.

I won't use the vulgar slang - instead I'd suggest you choose your own epithet for the government's energy policy. And sign the Energy Bill Revolution petition.

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