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Don’t leave us in the dark.

We need a true and fair view of energy subsidies now, so that we can map out a clear, credible path to an affordable renewable energy future.

04-11-2012 | The UK Government is due to publish the Energy Bill next month. The decisions in it matter, because they will define how we meet the energy needs of future generations. In preparation for this announcement, there have been clear calls for greater clarity on targets for carbon reductions and renewable energy – from energy campaigners, investors and the business community. But despite a huge amount of empirical evidence to inform these decisions, much of the political and popular debate has rested on anecdotal stories.


One of the most striking examples of this is the debate around subsidies. Since many of the pricing support mechanisms to renewable energy are transparent and visible, critics describe them as subsidies. This is true. But it’s also true of all energy sources like fossil fuels and nuclear energy. A major Dutch study* conducted in 2011 found 53 types of interventions present in the Dutch energy market, the majority favouring fossil fuel. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook1 confirmed that global subsidies to fossil fuels were 6 times higher than renewable energy in 2010 – but even that report was not able to analyse or quantify many of the indirect and systemic subsidies which are externalised. Whilst the energy sector is run by private enterprise, in practice it is subsidised by the government via, among other things, the tax system, limiting liabilities, trade measures, and historic subsidies in building infrastructure.

To make clear decisions, we need a clear picture. We need to raise the level of debate with the benefit of reliable, independent information about subsidies in the energy sector. In short, we need a report, verified by the National Audit Office, describing the subsidies in the energy sector.

We call for this report to be commissioned as a matter of priority. We know we need decisive action now to tackle energy security and climate change, but we don’t have a full picture about the economic relationship between the state and the energy sector.With it we can create the solid long term policy framework that’s essential for new forms of sustainable energy to succeed. It is vital that we find the right ways to support these developments - and that any support is made on a fair basis. Get this right and we can keep the lights on and ensure the best deal for future generations of citizens, consumers and taxpayers.

James Vaccaro, Head of Corporate Development, Triodos Bank NV

Dale Vince OBE (Ecotricity )

Jeremy Leggett (Chairman, CEO , Solarcentury )

Juliet Davenport (CEO, Good Energy )

Penny Shepherd MBE (Chief Executive, UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association )

James Bevan (Chief Investment Officer, CCLA )

Ben Goldsmith (WHEB Asset Management )

Peter Madden (CEO, Forum for the Future )

Dmitri Zhengelis (Senior Economic Advisor, Cisco )

Simon Roberts OBE (CEO, Centre for Sustainable Energy )

Merlin Hyman (CEO, REGEN SW )

Stewart Wallis (CEO, New Economics Foundation )

1 IEA figures for fossil fuel subsidies were $409bn in 2010 compared to renewable subsidies of c.$60bn. IEA estimate that fossil fuel subsidies will grow to $600bn by 2015

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