Politicians opposing wind farms ‘a turn-off’ say voters – time for a positive vision

New independent research from ComRes – commissioned by RenewableUK – shows that political parties that oppose onshore wind development are likely to lose twice as many votes as they gain. In the 40 most marginal Lab-Con constituencies that margin doubles, with parties opposing onshore wind losing four times more voters than they attract.

The research chimes with our experience at the Centre for Alternative Technology, which is that where a positive vision is presented, people respond positively to it. Last year we launched our report Zero Carbon Britain – Rethinking the Future, a scenario for the UK in which carbon dioxide emissions were completely eliminated through concerted action to reduce energy demand, shift diets and build a new green infrastructure including wind turbines alongside a range of other renewable technologies. The research has been embraced by many communities and people calling for serious action on climate change. It is this positive vision that our Renewable Energy and the Built Environment MSc and other masters courses train people to create and implement.

People vote in favour of wind
Research reveals people more likely to vote for politicians in favour wind

New Onshore Wind Research shows politicians need positive vision

The opinion poll research revealed that of those surveyed:

  • 30% of Britons would be less likely to vote for a party that proposed to halt the deployment of further onshore wind schemes, with only 15% being more likely to.
  • Supporters of Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are all turned off by an anti-onshore wind attitude: voters of all three parties would be less likely to vote for a party which was anti-onshore wind than would be more likely.
  • In the 40 most marginal Conservative/Labour constituencies nearly four times as many people would be turned off by an anti-onshore wind party, with 39% saying they would be less likely to vote for a national party which blocked further development, and just 10% being more likely to.

According to Renewable UK,  the findings become even clearer once people were made aware of reports suggesting that household bills may need to rise if renewable targets are to be met through other means, as suggested by the Royal Academy of Engineering earlier this year. Five times more voters are likely to prefer the continued development of onshore wind compared to halting all further projects and bill rises (85% vs 15%).

In contrast, local candidates for election who are in favour of the development of onshore wind are likely see a boost in their support. Almost a quarter of adults (23%) said they would be more likely to support such a candidate, in comparison to just 16% who would be less likely to. The margin again grows in the 40 most marginal Conservative/Labour seats to 23% and 12% respectively.

Kit Jones, Zero Carbon Britain Communications Officer at the Centre for Alternative Technology said:

This research needs to be seen as the basis for a new cross-party consensus that we should be deploying all available sustainable technologies to eliminate Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. This is a clear reversal of the current direction of government policy and rhetoric, which is deliberately making it increasingly difficult for new onshore wind projects to go ahead.

Our own Zero Carbon Britain research demonstrates that it would be possible for Britain to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 whilst maintaining a modern standard of living. Onshore and offshore wind both have an important role in a renewable energy future. Most people understand this, and this new research shows they are prepared to vote for it.

RenewableUK Chief Executive Maria McCaffery said:

This poll shows that anti-onshore wind policy is a clear vote-loser, with Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem voters turned off by anti-onshore rhetoric. Those who espouse anti-wind views should pay particular attention to results in the marginal seats which will determine the next election. The public understands that we need more onshore wind.

Onshore wind is the cheapest form of low carbon technology, and provided enough power for 3.8 million households last year. Voters understand it’s wrong to rule out further onshore wind and will not back candidates who try to. This sends a clear message to politicians to back this technology and the 19,000 people who work in the industry.

ZCBlog: Catalysing the shift we need

As we press ahead with our new Zero Carbon Britain research, we are all motivated by the clear evidence that our climate and energy challenges have not gone away, and in many ways they are getting worse. AT ZCB we are keen to explore new drivers that can help Britain rise to that challenge – and one of the most interesting areas of work is in the development of Tradable Energy Quotas, or ‘TEQs‘ for short. In line with this, the new Zero Carbon Britain report will include a section suggesting and evaluating policies such as TEQs, cap and share, emissions trading schemes and carbon taxes that might be used to achieve a zero carbon future.

Currently, our Government has over one hundred policies that impact on emissions. Yet it has produced, in the words of Parliament’s own Environmental Audit Committee, “a confusing framework that cannot be said to promote effective action on climate change.”

We desperately need a clear, focused framework for reducing emissions in the kindest, fairest way possible. This is what TEQs offer – to unleash grassroots invention and collaboration, to make energy use a visible in people’s lives and to generate a common purpose in addressing these challenges.

“If I weren’t working at CAT I’d go and work with Shaun [Chamberlain]”, says ZCB’s Paul Allen, “he’s doing really inspirational things with TEQs and The Lean Economy Connection”.

The TEQs Board is currently looking for two interns to help research how TEQs can help deliver a radical change in UK energy policy. They describe their work as “a way to address social injustice, climate change and fuel depletion that is politically achievable” – check out the description below to learn more!

 

TEQ Internships

We are currently seeking two interns to help move TEQs forward towards implementing a radical change in UK energy policy.  Although we cannot offer payment for this at the moment, there may be the possibility the role could progress in the future.

TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas) is an electronic energy rationing system designed to be implemented at the national scale. There are two main reasons why TEQs are needed:

1) Climate change: to guarantee achieving national carbon reduction targets.

2) Energy supply: to maintain a fair distribution of fuel and electricity during shortages.

Currently, the UK government has over one hundred policies that impact on emissions levels yet it has produced, in the words of Parliament’s own Environmental Audit Committee, “a confusing framework that cannot be said to promote effective action on climate change.”  Accordingly, nobody currently expects us to meet those legally binding Climate Change Act emissions targets.

We desperately need a clear, focused framework for reducing emissions in the kindest, fairest way possible, and this is what TEQs provides for a nation – a context created to unleash grassroots invention and collaboration across sectors; a context designed to make energy use a real, visible thing in people’s lives; and a context built with the express purpose of generating that elusive thing, common purpose, in addressing our key collective challenges.

At the heart of the TEQs scheme are two things:

1)    The need to respect the non-negotiable limits set by the physical realities of climate change and fuel depletion.

2)    A recognition that if our society is to thrive within any sufficiently tight cap on emissions, it needs to dramatically change its relationship with energy, and that this change can only be driven from the bottom-up.

The principle underpinning TEQs was put perfectly by the late David Fleming, the founder of TEQs:

“Large scale problems do not require large-scale solutions – they require small-scale solutions within a large-scale framework.”

While it is tempting to think of a tightening global cap on emissions as a solution in itself, such a cap is worthless without on-the-ground solutions at the local and individual level – and TEQs facilitates this action in a way that is meaningful to everyone.

TEQs have won supporters from all the main political parties. The UK government funded a pre-feasibility study into the scheme (2008) and 2011 saw an All-Party Parliamentary report in support of TEQs, with extensive international media coverage.  After fifteen years of political and academic study of the scheme, the intellectual argument had been won.

However we now need a campaign to put climate and energy front-and-centre again in the public and political consciousness, and to press for the answer to one simple question:  Given that implementing TEQs simply guarantees that the legally-binding targets set by the Climate Change Act are achieved, are we, or are we not, going to respect climate science and UK law?

If you are interested in applying for an internship, or discussing further details on what the role might involve, please contact Shaun Chamberlin at shaun@teqs.net