Today we’ve exposed explosive evidence of the lengths to which some Conservative Party MPs will go to sabotage progress on climate change. We’ve uncovered a plot to dismantle the Climate Change Act and one Tory MP involved in trying to manipulate a by-election to push his own anti-wind agenda.
So what exactly is going on?
Well. Like any good political scandal, it’s complex, convoluted and involves people at the highest levels of government. There’s two elements to the story. The first involves the Corby by-election, the second focuses on an attack by senior Conservative Party members on climate progress.
But let’s start at the beginning. #Corbyshambles.
Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris is the campaign manager for the Conservative Party in the upcoming Corby by-election. However, as the ringleader of the anti-wind movement Heaton-Harris has clearly felt for a long time that the Tories aren’t strong enough in their opposition to wind farms. He was the instigator of a letter signed by over a hundred MPs, most of them Conservatives, calling on government to cut subsidies for renewable energy, particularly wind.
Heaton-Harris is exposed in our film as wanting to write opposition to wind “into the DNA of the Tory Party” - going against the promises of his leader David Cameron, the Coalition Agreement and the opinions of the British public - 64% of whom want more renewable energy.
Heaton-Harris’ plan involved using the Corby by-election to put wind on the agenda. He arranged for outspoken climate change denier James Delingpole to stand as an independent candidate on an anti-wind platform. He even provided his Deputy Chairman Trevor Sherman to act as Delingpole’s election agent saying Sherman “resigned” from his role in the Conservative Party to help Delingpole.
On 31 October Energy Minister John Hayes made the announcement that “enough is enough” on wind farm construction in the UK. Hours later Delingpole announced that he would stand down from the Corby by-election citing Hayes’ announcement as a victory for his campaign.
Later that day Chris Heaton-Harris is recorded speaking to our undercover investigator saying “nothing in politics, even if it happens by accident, nothing happens by accident”.
Still with me? Great, ‘cos that’s just the start. On to #Energygate...
Our investigators also spoke to a number of influential Conservatives suspected of involvement in undermining progress on climate change.
We discovered evidence pointing to Chancellor George Osborne positioning senior Tories in government, like pieces on a chessboard.
‘Global luke-warmist’ Peter Lilley MP, recently appointed to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, was quoted as saying “Osborne wanted to get people into key positions who could begin to get the government off the hook from the commitments it made very foolishly”. He is referring to the appointments of outspoken opponent of wind power Energy Minister John Hayes and climate sceptic Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.
But if Hayes and Paterson are so opposed to wind power, why put them in positions with so much influence over the government's environmental and clean energy policies? It’s like appointing an atheist as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Peter Lilley went on “...We could well see certainly amendments to the Climate Change Act, cease to make it legally binding, make it advisory”.
The Climate Change Act contains perhaps our most important environmental laws. It sets legally-binding targets for cutting the UK’s carbon emissions. Osborne’s plans to undermine it are serious. Without it being legally-binding, the government can effectively ignore it.
So why do they need to undermine the Climate Change Act?
Well, over the next few years we need to replace the UK’s ageing power stations and the upcoming Energy Bill will effectively decide how we do this. Osborne and the gas lobby are trying hard to keep targets for reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation out of the Bill, allowing gas companies to build dozens of new gas power stations.
With more of our gas being imported from places like Qatar our ability to generate energy - and the cost of household energy bills - becomes unstable and volatile. As Conservative peer, and Osborne’s father-in-law, Lord Howell puts it in our film “if [Qatar] went into chaos, we’d be up shit creek, we really would”.
However, there’s a spanner in the works. The Committee on Climate Change, the government’s advisors, stated recently that Osborne’s dash for gas could be illegal under the Climate Change Act. So step number one for Osborne is stripping the Act of its power.
When the Act was introduced in 2008 David Cameron whipped his party to vote for it, only 5 Tories rebelled and voted against it, including Peter Lilley. Now even his closest allies seem to be plotting to undermine his promises on climate change.
David Cameron needs to take control of his party and remember the green promises he made to voters two years ago. He campaigned for the Climate Change Act, now he needs to defend it.