UK stance on renewable energy leaves Al Gore 'puzzled'

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The U.K. government’s recent about-turn on clean energy subsidies is a move that has left Al Gore ‘puzzled’, the former U.S. VP and climate campaigner has told an audience at a CBI/Green Alliance event in London this week.

Urging the Conservative government to resume its leadership on climate change, Gore remarked that he could not understand recent proposals by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to reduce subsidies for clean energy, including a FIT cut of 87% and the early closure of the Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme.

Intermittent applause interrupted Gore’s speech when he queried just what the children of tomorrow would make of decisions being passed today. "Will our children ask, why didn’t you act?" He said. "Or will they ask, how did you find the moral courage to rise up and change?"

Gore urged the government to reclaim its position as one of the foremost leaders in tackling climate change, calling the U.K.’s legacy on this matter ‘historic’, using language designed to tug at the patriotic heartstrings the Conservatives appear particularly sensitive to.

"It is time for the U.K. government to honor and live up to that legacy, and return to its global leadership position, domestically and abroad, by supporting an ambitious international agreement in Paris that unleashes the power of the private sector to create a global clean energy economy," added Gore.

The government’s policies and proposals on changes to clean energy have come under intense scrutiny from many sides in recent days. Gore said that fossil fuels in the U.K. have received subsidies some 44 times higher than those enjoyed by renewable energy, while a consortium of pro-solar advocates – including many leading organizations and businesses prominent in the U.K. – last week signed a petition sent to DECC urging it to reconsider its proposals to cut the FIT for solar PV.

In attracting more than 10,000 signatures, the petition forced an official response from DECC, which claimed that the new proposed tariff for most homeowners – down from 12.47p/kWh to just 1.63p/kWh – was sufficient to provide returns of between 4%-9%.