Published on April 19th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill0
UK PM Calls Surprise Election, Puts Green Economy On Further Hold
April 19th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill
UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s shock announcement to call a General Election for June 8 in an attempt to solidify her grip on power amidst the turmoil of upcoming Brexit negotiations has only served to further hinder the country’s green economy and policy moves, an unintended consequence which will create policy and investment uncertainty for months to come.
Speaking on the steps of Downing Street on Tuesday morning, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she was calling for a General Election, to be held on June 8. “We need a general election and we need one now,” she said. “I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion but now I have concluded it is the only way to guarantee certainty for the years ahead.”
The move was a shock on many levels, not least of all the short amount of time until the election, nor the fact that Theresa May has been vehemently against such a move for some time now. However, the PM now believes it is a necessary step — but it must also be a step she believes she can win, especially considering recent polls have her party ahead by 21 points.
“After the country voted to leave the EU, Britain needed certainty, stability, and strong leadership. Since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that,” May said. However, she targeted the Labour party of opposing these efforts. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not. Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach. The Lib Dems have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill. Unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.”
Further, Theresa May’s leadership has been under threat over the Brexit negotiations, especially as it comes to whether the United Kingdom will remain united at all. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is on the warpath again, promising another independence referendum only a few years after the last one.
So what does all of this mean for the country’s clean energy and environmental policies? Already under threat from the Brexit negotiations, policy and investment uncertainty are only going to increase over the next few months as Government is put on hold while everyone campaigns, as well as a two month Parliamentary recess following soon after the election. As a result, it is expected that the long-awaited Clean Growth Plan will be delayed again, as could the 25 Year Plan for Nature and air quality plan. Put up alongside the predictions that the UK will seek to weasel out of the legal ramifications of failing to meet its energy targets in the face of Brexit, and the country’s already sliding record on environment and energy looks set to slide further out of their grasp.
Nevertheless, UK-based trade bodies are hopeful that an election can deliver some good for renewable energy and environmental issues.
“Whichever party forms the next UK Government, the benefits of decarbonising our energy system at the lowest cost to the consumer remain clear,” said Niall Stuart, Chief Executive at Scottish Renewables. “Renewable energy is already delivering jobs and investment while helping to tackle climate change.
“Technological advances and rapid cost reductions are demonstrating that a modern, low-carbon energy system will provide even greater economic and environmental benefits.”
“Political parties should support a vibrant renewable energy sector if they want to be successful in Government: this is a sector which offers regional economic growth, and an affordable, sustainable, domestic energy supply,” said Emma Pinchbeck, RenewableUK’s Executive Director. “And we know that renewable energy is massively popular with voters – three-quarters of the public support renewables.
“There is a massive opportunity for an incoming Government to reap the benefits of the renewable energy transition. Our response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which we submitted yesterday, highlights how our country can benefit from this transition in a global market now worth hundreds of billions of dollars every year.”