Earlier this week, thousands of people gathered in London from across the UK to speak to their politicians about climate change, urging them to take strong action to protect the things that we love. The ‘Speak Up for The Love Of’ lobby of parliament was the biggest ever lobby of Parliament, with some 330 MPs listening to their constituents explain why climate change matters to them and discussing actions government should take.
Towards the end of the day, business leaders came together to urge the new Government to provide investors with certainty about the UK’s transition to a low carbon future. Amber Rudd, the new energy and climate change secretary, spoke with conviction about tackling climate change.
Shortly after this event, however, DECC announced that public subsidies for onshore wind farms through the Renewables Obligation will be stopped a year earlier than expected.
We fear this will make it harder for the UK to tackle climate change and protect nature. Unless we decarbonise UK and global energy supplies, there is a real risk climate change will become a major driver of extinctions for birds and all species, with dire consequences for nature and society.
A nature-friendly carbon-free future requires a wide mix of renewable energy sources. Without sustained investment in well-located onshore wind it will become more challenging to realise the long term ambition we share with governments.
For the transition to low carbon energy to enjoy public support, costs have to be kept down and impacts on the environment have to be minimised.
Onshore wind power has a big contribution to make. It is one of the most cost-effective renewable energy technologies and has made a significant contribution to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, providing clean, low carbon energy.
The RSPB will continue to fight renewable energy projects when they are sited in the wrong locations and threaten our most important places for wildlife. See for example our current fight to protect the Flow Country peatlands of Sutherland from SSE’s proposed Strathy South windfarm. However, when wind farms are sited sensibly and managed appropriately, they do not pose a conservation threat to birds or other wildlife.
We want to see a transition to a low carbon economy that takes place in harmony with nature. But this low carbon transition may not happen at all without clear and consistent policy support. As business leaders highlighted at the Westminster climate lobby, businesses and investors require long-term certainty to make decisions.
Climate change is the greatest long-term threat to wildlife around the world. That’s why we want to see the UK pursuing ambitious targets and effective support schemes for renewable energy deployment, including for onshore wind.