Dear Mr Davey
As you know from reading the papers, the scientific journals, and no doubt from your press briefers, for the first time in human history, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has passed 400 parts per million. Doesn’t sound much does it? The last time such levels were seen on earth was before human history: the Arctic had no ice, sea levels were 40 times higher than now, and lush savannah plains spread across what is now the Sahara desert.
You have seen warnings of this before, so we know that unless we curtail the burning of gas, oil and coal, the temperature level of the planet will rise above 2 degrees. That’s the level where catastrophic environmental consequences will be triggered. The International Energy Agency has said that on current emission trends, the temperature will rise by a staggering 6 degrees.
You have said:
“This isn’t just a symbolic milestone, it’s yet another piece of clear scientific evidence of the effect human activity is having on our planet. I’ve made it clear I will not let up on efforts to secure the legally binding deal the world needs by 2015 to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”
Of course, I applaud your fine words, and know you will lobby hard in Paris in 2015 at the UN summit, to set a binding international treaty to curb emissions. But what actions are you taking to curb emissions in the UK, to encourage renewable energy, and to preach the benefits of wind power and solar power? Ah. That’s where there’s a problem isn’t there Mr Davey? It’s all very difficult and political. With a coalition Government that is looking shakier by the day, and Shire County MPs complaining about unsightly onshore wind farms blighting the view, do you have the mettle to stand firm and look at the long-term for not just the UK but the planet, or will you succumb to the easy get-out, and put politics, party and votes before a future for our children and those yet unborn?
You’ve done well so far. Last year you insisted that Britain needed more onshore wind turbines, despite growing political hostility to their construction and use. You said that the Coalition is committed to increasing the share of Britain’s energy needs that is met from “renewable” sources including wind farms and tidal barriers, to wean the country off increasingly expensive imported oil and gas. Critics, who include many of your coalition partners- Conservative MPs- say wind turbines are unsightly and inefficient.
Proposals for new wind farms often provoke local opposition, but in a BBC interview, Mr Davey said turbines could be good for people living nearby. You said:
“There are a lot of wind farms that are being put up to the benefit of local communities. If Britain can get ahead of the game by not just investing these technologies for our own energy needs, but also developing the industry so we can sell them to the world, this is about huge numbers of green jobs.”
But you must continue to beware the woodworm in the woodpile; Energy Minister John Hayes. A committed old school Conservative. He has long set out his opposition to wind energy. Following his appointment, he was cheered when he told the Conservative Party conference that he is now the minister in charge on renewables. And it’s no surprise he has strayed from the official Department for Energy & Climate Change policy, following his speech to the RenewableUK conference, and said UK is "peppered" with wind farms and "enough is enough".
I realise that in a coalition situation you are not in the strongest of positions being the minority party. But if you are committed and passionate about renewable energy, you must not waver and continue to put Hayes down each time he curries favour with his Tory cronies by criticising wind power. It may well appear a thankless task, especially when the Coalition Prime Minister appears not to want to support you and slap Hayes down. I guess it comes to your own personal commitment and to those of us who would like to see the planet survive into the 22nd Century and beyond.
You are doing well, Mr Davey and holding the helm steady from a position of weakness in terms of being a junior partner in the coalition. But this is a crisis and in times of crisis, statesmen are born. Be a statesman Mr Davey. And the country, and the world will remember you for it.