True greens should embrace fracking for shale gas in order to combat climate change, the energy minister has said. Greg Barker said ideological convictions rather than sound science motivated anti-fracking campaigners, and urged an expansion of fracking in the UK.
“If you are really against climate change, then to be anti-fracking is incredibly dangerous,” he said. This was because coal-fired power generation could be replaced with gas, which burns with lower carbon dioxide emissions. “The knee-jerk reactions to fracking is [based on] ideology, it’s not science-based.”
Barker, one of the architects of David Cameron’s pledge to lead the “greenest government ever”, said environmentalists needed to cheer up.
He warned of a tendency for greens to “slit their wrists at every opportunity”, to see the world as “going to hell in a handbasket” and to imagine that the green agenda had been “thrown out the window” when it had not been.
At a meeting of the all-party parliamentary environment group, Barker also defended the green deal, the government scheme by which households can access loans to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.
Tuesday is the first anniversary of the policy’s launch. There were 1,612 households with green deal plans in progress at the end of December, the government reported last week.
Barker said: “The green deal has very solid foundations, and a solid supply chain. [People who have installed green deal measures] have an 87% satisfaction rate.”
He said the loans were necessary: “We simply can’t refurbish housing stock at the scale we wish to do exclusively through subsidies, which is what previous models [under Labour] did.”
He admitted there was “stuff to fix”, but said the £500m of measures that had the backing of the Treasury were a “big vote of confidence from the Treasury in energy efficiency”.
John Alker, director of policy at the UK Green Building Council, said: “There is no escaping the fact that the green deal has so far been a damp squib. However, with a general election looming there is a real opportunity to put energy efficiency centre stage in the battle to bring down the cost of living and boost growth. Green deal-style loans are an essential part of any national retrofit strategy and must be made to work – the introduction of expected new incentives will be key.”