National Friends of the Earth’s campaign Clean British Energy (CBE) is entering a critical stage. The Energy Bill going through parliament has been read. An amendment has been tabled by Tim Yeo, a Conservative MP, and Barry Gardiner MP, who is from the Labour Party. The amendment known as the ‘Green Jobs amendment’ asks amongst other things, for a decarbonisation target to be put into the Energy Bill. We need as many MPs as possible to sign this amendment to get it through.

A decarbonisation target would prevent energy companies building new fossil fuel power stations known as the ‘dash for gas’. It would also encourage investors, providing a stable economic environment for investors to support profitable renewable energy projects, creating thousands of jobs.

In Birmingham we’re well underway in doing our part. We recently worked with the University of Birmingham’s People and Planet group to put on a public meeting called ‘Energy We Can All Afford’. Over 70 people attended as well as our speakers: Rosemary Coyne, a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, Lorraine Gumbs from Warm Zones, Guy Shrubsole from Friends of the Earth, Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe and Graeme Brown from the Birmingham Post as Chair.

We asked the panelists the question: “If you could make one change to current energy policy, locally or nationally. What would it be and why?” before giving the audience the opportunity to ask any questions of their own. All the panelists gave really informative answers and spoke with passion.

There was also a great variety in the answers. Rosemary and Lorraine looked at fuel poverty, with Rosemary concentrating on local projects, and Lorraine expressing that more government funding needs to be made available and more needs to be done to keep energy bill costs from continuing to rise.

Guy and Steve focused on the political side of the story with regards to the Energy Bill. Both of them initially stating that a decarbonsisation target was needed in the Energy Bill. With Guy then branching out to talk about the UK’s renewable resources such as: offshore wind, wave and tidal. Steve then talked more upon the need for the energy market to be more competitive (99% of households’ energy are provided by the big six energy companies).

Moving on to the discussion part of the evening, there was a lot of talk on the Government’s Green Deal. We were also lucky to have some very knowledgeable audience members, who mentioned some of the emerging technologies in the industry. Guy Shrubsole also briefly spoke about the Energy Bill Revolution that this meeting was a part of. This campaign calls for carbon taxes to be used on home energy efficiency measures to combat fuel poverty, which ended with a lot of nodding heads by all who were there. 

It was a great event and for a more in depth description of the night, visit our website where we have a review.

The meeting has led nicely onto our next goal, getting Birmingham’s MPs to sign and vote for the “green jobs” amendment. To do this, we need their constituents to pressure their MPs to sign the amendment and vote for a decarbonisation target. We recently got Liberal Democrat John Hemming MP to sign the amendment, which was a big win for us. As this is a cross party amendment, which the government does not support, it is vital that we get a coalition of MPs onside and turning up on the day to vote it through. We encourage everyone to write to their MPs to see if they have signed up and ask them to do so if not. Please email if you want any help contacting your MP and also to let us know of any responses you get.