11/08/2015 06:23 BST | Updated 10/08/2016 06:59 BST

Winter Is Coming


To mark 100 days of the first Conservative government in nearly 20 years, HuffPost UK is running 100 Days of Dave, a special series of blog posts from grassroots campaigners to government ministers, single parents to first-year students, reflecting on what's worked and what hasn't, whilst looking for solutions to the problems we still face.

Before polling day I was looking forward to a woman being secretary of state for energy and climate change after the election, but I hoped it would be me not Conservative Amber Rudd. Looking back at the first 100 days of this Government it is hard not to think of the alternative we'd been working on.

Amidst campaigning and parliamentary work, for months my team and I had been meeting DECC officials to better prepare for transition and our own first 100 days. I was proud of what was worked up but the result in May wasn't what we'd hoped for and we didn't get the chance to implement the energy price freeze and ambitious plans to reset the energy market. Analysis in the CMA's Provisional Findings showing that households have been overcharged by the Big Six by more than a billion pounds a year confirms what I have been saying for four years. We have yet to see any sign of an adequate response from Government but I am still working on my own ideas for change.

Our first 100 day plan also included moving us closer to a 2030 decarbonisation target for power supply and laying out detailed options for the Paris climate conference at the end of the year.

A central part of that was to press our fellow European countries to raise their ambition beyond the 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 in the current submission, and to make climate change central to our foreign policy. Our own targets here are tougher and we should be showing leadership in Europe and in the rest of the world in this year of huge importance.

Instead of putting these plans into place, I found myself at the dispatch box for Labour's first Opposition Day of the Parliament. I chose to debate climate change because of its importance to our environment and our economy. With a relatively short time to the summer recess I didn't want to lose a valuable opportunity before September to reaffirm that HM Opposition is willing to work in a consensual way to get the best deal in Paris and hold the Government accountable for its actions. We also wanted to call out the Government because of a growing number of stories suggesting that their green credentials were rapidly diminishing.

The Government did not vote against our motion that day but whatever optimism we could derive from that was short lived as since then they've unveiled a whole range of policy changes damaging to jobs and investment in the green economy.

Criticism has been wide ranging. The National Trust said it was unusual for them to sign a joint letter critical of the Government but they "are seriously concerned that the Government's policy choices will undermine the ambitions set out in the Conservative manifesto to restore the natural environment and David Cameron's pledge made before the election to tackle climate change." When Siemens announced they would be building a factory for offshore wind turbines last year the Prime Minister said it was a vote of confidence in their long-term plans. Since the election they have joined the chorus of disapproval, saying "doubt and uncertainty discourages investment decisions".

Energy efficiency is another key part of making progress on tackling climate change. If I was writing about Labour's first 100 days I would have been sharing how we were consulting on my plan to make five million homes warmer. Instead chaos reigns as the Green Deal is dumped and there's no sense of where the Government wants to take us from here.

To round it all off, we heard the ideological underpinning of many of these changes from the Secretary of State when she gave her first major speech on climate change last month. Divisive and short-sighted, it sought to dial down our distinctive leadership on climate change just as China, the US and much of the rest of the world makes bold moves, and instead sympathized with "the suspicion of those who see climate action as some sort of cover for anti-growth, anti-capitalist, proto-socialism".

They are down to one minister in DECC - the minister split with BIS has gone. The all-women Commons Team have a lot to do. Have they been handed a poisoned chalice in which before the Parliament's out the department itself is scrapped with energy back in BIS and climate change to DEFRA? As Amber and Andrea enjoy their holiday taking in some summer sun, beware. Winter is coming.

Caroline Flint is shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change and Labour MP for Don Valley

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