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Mon 16 September 2019
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After Theresa May refused to meet Greta Thunberg yesterday, the Treasury shuns an important committee inquiry about climate change this morning.

Additional reporting by Alex Varley-Winter

The image of Theresa May’s name card at an empty seat opposite Greta Thunberg yesterday was bad enough and no amount of silver-tongued protestations of support from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, could make up for it.

With Extinction Rebellion blocking Parliament Square, the Government is showing a ‘bunker’ mentality to increasing demands for it to take action on tackling climate change.

The Treasury refused to provide a minister for the final hearing of its energy efficiency inquiry today.

This was evident today when the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee confirmed that the Treasury had refused to provide a minister for the final hearing of its energy efficiency inquiry.

The committee confirmed this: “The BEIS Committee officials contacted the Treasury to request a minister appear before the committee’s final evidence hearing as part of the energy efficiency inquiry,” a spokesperson told the Byline Times: “The Treasury refused to provide a minister.”

Swedish climate acticist Greta Thunberg meets leaders of the UK political parties at the House of Commons in Westminster, London including Green Party leader Caroline Lucas and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. A chair was reserved for Theresa May.

The refusal of the Treasury to attend the inquiry is a real problem because it means it has dodged the opportunity for the committee to scrutinise its ‘financial incentives’ to help ordinary people meet carbon targets. This is an area where the UK’s performance over the last 20 years has been woeful.

The no-show also adds credence to Greta Thunberg’s accusation that the Government’s claim that it is a leader in tackling climate change is all bluster.

Today, the inquiry heard that, if all UK homes could improve their fuel efficiency, the energy saved would be equivalent to five nuclear power stations and would bring down all consumers’ energy bills.

Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach pointed out that the uncompetitive 9.5% interest rates offered on loans by the ‘Green Deal bank’ were the main reason why the Green Deal – which aimed to help people make energy-saving improvements to their homes – had failed.

Perhaps the Treasury were so ashamed of the failure of the Green Deal that it couldn’t face the inquiry. After all, its incompetence on this seems to punish consumers rather than reward them.


Looking across the Channel – Britain not a Leader

The UK Government’s self-professed leadership in the fight against climate change looks even more tarnished when the European equivalent of the Green Deal is considered.

European schemes offer homeowners low interest green loans from 0-2.7%. In Germany, home-owners have invested 8.4 billion euros in fuel efficiency. As well as reducing carbon, this has also generated 1.6 billion euros and 320,000 jobs in the building industry.

Perhaps if the Treasury bothered to look across the Channel from its Brexit ‘bunker’, it might learn enough to hide its head in shame at refusing to attend this inquiry.

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The no-show also adds credence to climate change activist Greta Thunberg’s accusation that the Government’s claim that it is a leader in tackling climate change is all bluster. Thunberg, who addressed MPs in Parliament this week, also accused the Government of “creative carbon accounting” and said that its domestic targets don’t go nearly far enough.

Today shows that Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion have a tough job on their hands to engage this Government in the biggest issue facing us all in the days, weeks, months, years and decades ahead.

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