'The environmental Taliban': George Osborne slams Parliamentary climate change campaigners

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Thu Oct 18 08:15:02 BST 2012

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'The environmental Taliban': George Osborne slams Parliamentary climate 
change campaigners as Treasury fights to water down Energy Bill commitments 

Oliver Wright, The Independent, Wednesday 17th October 2012

George Osborne has started referring to Parliamentary climate change 
campaigners as the “environmental Taliban”, it emerged today, as the 
Treasury fights to water down renewable commitments in the Government’s 
flagship Energy Bill.

Members of the Coalition’s quad of decision makers including the 
Chancellor, David Cameron and Nick Clegg met today in attempt to thrash out 
details of the bill which is due to be published within weeks.

Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary, is pushing for the legislation to 
contain a specific legally binding commitment on the total amount of carbon 
that can be emitted by powers stations by 2030 to “bind in” the Government 
to renewable energy.

He is also arguing that the Treasury should be the ultimate guarantor of 
the loans that renewable energy companies will need to take out to invest 
in new renewable and nuclear power stations. These so-called “contracts for 
difference”, it is argued, would give investors the confidence that there 
will be long-term revenues in renewables and reduce the cost of upfront 
capital expenditure for new low-carbon projects.

But Mr Osborne and the Treasury have been opposing both measures. Senior 
Conservative sources said that Mr Osborne’s objections to the plans reflect 
his growing scepticism about the need to take immediate action to 
decarbonise the economy during a time of recession.

“I think that George’s position reflects a growing scepticism about current 
climate change policy across the party,” said one MP.

“It was fine to be talking about spending money on climate change in the 
good times but when energy bills are going up it doesn’t seem like good 

Another source added: “George has started referring to the green lobby in 
Government and Tory party as the environmental Taliban. It’s meant as a 
joke but it shows where he’s coming from.”

Mr Osborne is also pushing for the creation of a ‘levy control framework’ 
which would, in effect, put a cap on the total subsidy from tax payers and 
energy consumers going towards green power.

This would allow the Chancellor to claim he is helping keep energy bills 
down at a time of recession. However critics claim it will result in a 
“dash for gas” and higher, less green energy in the longer term.

It is understood that yesterday’s quad meeting was inconclusive. Downing 
Street is thought to have sympathy with Lib Dem demands for a specific 
carbon commitment in the bill but backs the Treasury on the contract for 
difference guarantees.

“The devil is in the detail,” said one source close to Mr Davy. 
“Discussions are still on-going.”

Senior Lib Dems fear that unless they are seen to get a “win” on the energy 
bill they could pay a heavy electoral price. At the party’s recent 
conference in Brighton Greenpeace targeted the party warning them “not to 
let Osborne kill green growth”.

Last night a Greenpeace spokesman said they would continue to keep up the 

“We’ve had warm words and big promises from Ed Davy and Danny Alexander. 
Frankly it’s now up to them to deliver.”

- -- 


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
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God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

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