The renewable energy sector must play a key role in tackling the risk posed by climate change, according to the UK foreign secretary’s special representative for climate change, Professor Sir David King.
In his keynote speech at RenewableUK’s annual conference in Liverpool, Sir David described the renewable energy sector as a “leading industry” in the UK’s power sector which will continue to grow in the coming years.
The year 2015, he said, would be “a seminal year for the planet” as the UK reduces its dependence on fossil fuels.
Investment in the renewable energy sector has increased in recent years, with 2014 proving to be a promising year for the sector, as more renewable energy capacity was installed worldwide than fossil fuels for the first time. For the same year, wave and tidal sectors alone provided 10 per cent of the UK’s power needs, while renewable energy as a whole was responsible for up to 25 per cent.
In June 2014, the G7 Heads of Government meeting resulted in a commitment to “decarbonise the global economy over the course of the century”, as well as a promise to “raise overall coordination and transparency of clean energy research, development and demonstration”.
However, Sir David warned that there is a large gap between the path that the world is currently on and the one it needs to be on to preserve the environment, with long-term political support essential to the transition to a low-carbon economy in the UK and elsewhere.
It is therefore imperative, he said, that the UN climate change talks in Paris in December of this year result in a “robust deal”, and commitment to roll out cheap renewable energy, if there is hope for continued progress.
The UK government has come under fire in recent weeks for rolling back policies designed to support green technologies and sending a "worrying signal" to businesses, the CBI said. The government's own Committee on Climate Change has also written to ministers, calling for new green policies to be introduced after the Tories cut a number of existing policies over the summer. This followed the announcements that subsidies would cease for onshore wind and solar power and the "green deal" home energy efficiency scheme would be coming to an end.