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David Cameron’s speech at the launch of DECC’s Energy Efficiency Mission

On Monday, February 4 at the Royal Society, David Cameron gave a very important speech about energy efficiency at the launch of the DECC’s Energy Efficiency Mission. It is quite astonishing that neither No. 10 nor DECC have published this speech on their websites. Huge credit to businessGreen for doing government officials’ job. Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced David Cameron via video-link from a sustainability conference in Austria, and the former Governor’s speech was recorded. In any case, here is the speech in full. It makes for very interesting reading.

I want to tell you why I believe energy efficiency is so important. Yes of course it is a vital part of how we cut carbon emissions and continue to meet the ambitious targets set out in the Climate Change Act, which will allow us to meet growing energy demand in a way that protects the environment for our children, grandchildren and generations to come. Of course that is important, but my argument today is not just about doing what is right for our planet, but doing what is right for our economy too.

Because make no mistake we are in a global race and the countries that succeed in that race, the economies in Europe that will prosper, are those that are the greenest and the most energy efficient.

Let me be clear why that is. Energy consumption is set to grow by a third over the next two decades alone. And in a race for limited resources it is the energy efficient that will win that race.

It is the businesses that are best insulated from energy price shocks who will be the most successful, it is the consumers who are the least vulnerable to energy prices whose household bills will be the lowest and who can be the most confident about their future. And yes, it is the countries that prioritise green energy that will secure the biggest share of jobs and growth in a global low carbon sector set to be worth $4tr by 2015.

So to those who say we just can’t afford to prioritise green energy right now, my view is we can’t afford not to.

Far from being a drag on growth, making our energy sources more sustainable, our energy consumption more efficient, and our economy more resilient to energy price shocks – those things are a vital part of the growth and wealth that we need.

Already today Britain is one of the best places for green energy, green investment, and crucially for green jobs anywhere in the world.

We have the world’s first payments for business for generating renewable heat, we have a pioneering carbon capture and storage programme, we have the largest offshore wind market in the world.

In the City of London we’ve got the world’s number one financial centre for low carbon industries, and vitally we are putting energy efficiency where it should be at the heart of our energy policy.

Our Green Deal will mean thousands of families can afford to insulate their homes for less, our reformed feed-in tariff is helping drive the growth of a vibrant and entrepreneurial decentralised energy sector, providing communities and business with a range of innovative clean technologies.

And our Green Investment Bank – political parties across the world talked about a Green Investment Bank – is the first of its kind in the world and has £3bn to invest in green energy projects, with a particular focus on energy efficiency.

When I become Prime Minister I said I wanted Britain to have the greenest government ever and I am as committed to that today as I was then. But I want to go further. I want Greg [Barker] to bring together everything we are doing in one coherent strategy to make Britain the most energy efficient country in Europe.

I think there’s a huge opportunity. If you look at all the individual things I have mentioned that the government has committed itself to, the whole is much greater than the sum of anyone. I want to bring these together and really explain to the world, and particularly investors, what is available here in Britain.

I want you to help. It is a shared endeavour. It cannot be done by government alone.

You are the companies and contractors that can develop Britain’s expertise in energy efficient technology, you are the global investors who can get behind those companies and pioneer the new financial instruments that can take investment in green energy to the next level, you are the manufacturers who can use this technology to cut their costs, compete, create new jobs and win new contracts for Britain. And you are the experts who can help us build the right framework within government to get this right, who can use the consultation on the Energy Bill to shift policy and make us simplify the regulatory environment.

Together we can make Britain a global showcase for green innovation and energy efficiency.

Together we can do the right thing for our planet and, just as important, do the right thing for our economy too. With your help on this energy efficient mission we can make sure that now, and in years to come, Britain is open for business, winning in the global race, and doing it in a way that is green too.

[Asked by the Sun about the relatively slow take up of the Green Deal the Prime Minister responded:]

It’s very important with these big new programmes to get the balance right. On the one hand if you go off with an enormous advertising bang you will not have the capacity to meet demand and you will end up with disappointed consumers. You’ve got to try and balance that, this is a programme we want to build over the months and years ahead.

I think the advertising is effective think the name is very clear and understandable. The key to it is the basic promise that you are not making an upfront investment and the savings you will make over time will really benefit you… It will take time to build up because it is a new concept, but it [shows there is] vision from government, a commitment to energy efficiency, and big buy in from the private sector to help you deliver it.

Asked by the Daily Telegraph about his failure to deliver a big keynote speech on the environment the Prime Minister responded:

I think I have probably learnt my lesson about not pre-advertising major speeches in advance.

I think the important thing is judge a government on what it does, rather than the frequency of speeches. I really do think that if you look at the record of the government we have lots of first in the world, no other government has done what we have done on renewable heat, on the Green Investment Bank, on carbon capture and storage.

I accept there was a debate within government about the Energy Bill. I don’t hide that from anyone. People say it is because we are a coalition. But even if we weren’t a coalition there would still be a debate about the cost to consumers in the short run and subsidies that need to be given to help get new technologies off the ground. There is always going to be a debate about that.

We have had that debate, we’ve settled the debate and now we can go to international investors and say, ‘if, for instance, you invest in offshore wind if you build your turbine before the end of 2017 I can’t just tell you what you’ll earn for one year or two years, I can tell you what you’ll earn for 20 years. What other industry or business anywhere in the world has got that sort of certainty?

And then you look at the fact we have set the levy control framework beyond 2017, I really think Britain can get out there in the international market and talk to investors and talk to the big companies – the Siemens, the Gamesas, the Dows, and others – and say you have got absolute certainty investing in these markets. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of policy detail – the enormous commitment to the Green Deal, the enormous commitment to CCS, feed-in tariffs, to offshore wind industry and other areas – the commitment is all there.

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