This morning, the Chancellor George Osborne gave his Autumn Statement. People on Twitter say he's launched a dash for gas that would wreck our climate targets and make us the Dirty Man of Europe all over again.
But that can't be right, because my boss, John Sauven, got hold of an advanced copy of the speech. It's meant to be confidential, but I nicked it of off his desk and thought I'd share it with you all.
Mr Speaker, let me start by saying this is a statement for green growth, for investment, for UK industry, for families, for the economy and for our collective future.
I have listened hard to British investors and businesses, and I have listened to the challenges facing British households.
And that is why it gives me great pleasure today to pull the plug on my much-touted dash-for-gas.
Let’s face it – it was reckless, short-sighted, and, as it turns out, didn’t even make any fiscal sense.
In line with a major new Cambridge Econometrics Report released this week, which finds that investment in offshore wind would create more jobs and generate higher GDP than reliance on gas-fired power, with only marginal impacts on electricity prices, I am announcing a roadmap for a carbon-free electricity system by 2030.
Yes, it’s what everyone’s been saying for ages I should do – from M&S, to my coalition partners, to Microsoft, to the Women’s Institute, to the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturers who threatened to pull billions in investment out of the UK unless I gave a clear signal that I support greener electricity.
Well I listened, and I do!
I realise now that by increasing the UK’s reliance on expensive, volatile gas imports, I’d be putting households and families at risk of ever higher power bills. And thanks to my father-in-law Lord Howell - bless him- I now know that increased reliance on gas from places like Qatar could leave us “up shit creek”. It really could!
It dawned on me that by putting my eggs in the gas basket, I was missing a trick; especially because it would mean knee-capping a UK success story. The green economy provided one-third of all UK growth in 2010 – that’s an extraordinary performance at the best of times, and these are not them.
Mr Speaker, the leader of the Labour party asked in his conference address: "what planet are future Osbornes planning to live on?” So I asked Liberty and Luke. They said “certainly not one where half the economy is running on expensive, polluting gas in 2030.” And they asked me to put money aside for research into life on other planets. But I’m not stupid. I know it’s probably better just to show a little more respect for planet earth.
We're all on it together, after all.
Mr Speaker, I hereby commit to supporting the low carbon sector which, under my nose, seems to be growing and must define our future. Thank you.