Peer post – Lord Teverson on the importance of energy efficiency

Today Lord Teverson will ask the Government how it intends to implement its strategy for energy efficiency. Here he explains why we all need to give that strategy a wider profile

Lord Teverson
Lord Teverson

When it comes to energy issues then it is pretty clear what makes for interesting stories. Take your choice from shale gas fracking, the stops and starts of new nuclear, biofuels robbing the world’s poor of their food, or wind turbines blotting England’s green and pleasant land.

For parliamentarians in Westminster energy issues are particularly around upcoming legislation known rather uninspiringly as Electricity Market Reform. Ed Davey has just published – after a long wait, and long ‘discussions’ with the Treasury – the ‘EMR’ bill. At stake is filling the investment hole of some £200bn required to update and replace the UK’s increasingly ancient electrical infrastructure.

Governments fear electrical blackouts.  They are the ultimate inconvenience to electors, and a sure sign of political incompetence. We last suffered them during the last days of the Heath administration in the early 1970s.  Maggie learnt the lesson when she took on the miners the next decade. She didn’t make a move until there was enough coal at the power stations to ensure that the lights stayed on.

But all of these issues are just one side of the debate – the supply side. So my debate in the Lords this evening is to bring back the focus to the rather less exciting but perhaps rather more important demand side of that equation – energy efficiency.

One of Chris Huhne’s first acts as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was to introduce the Green Deal – it gives householders the means of investing in the energy efficiency of their homes on a larger scale than ever before. It is a great Lib Dem initiative.

But we need to get our head around the fact that if we launch a wider offensive against energy inefficiency there are big gains to be had. Here are just a few – fuel poverty recedes, we increase energy security, carbon emissions fall away, and not least we save ourselves tens of billions of pounds of that £200bn investment programme.

A couple of weeks ago Ed Davey, largely unnoticed, launched his energy efficiency strategy. In the debate this evening my goal is to give that strategy a greater profile. After all, energy efficiency is the most cost-effective means of both keeping the lights on and saving the planet.

Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

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