MCFly has tonight interviewed Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband, who is in Manchester to launch a “smart metering” scheme. The brief interview (full transcript below) touched on the rise in climate denialism, nuclear options, financing and “what if the Tories get in”. We hope to follow it up with a longer (and trickier for him!) interview in the coming weeks…
How do you think that, besides statements from the Secretary of State, we can counter the backsliding on public acceptance of the need to aggressively tackle climate change?
I think there are two things we need to do. First of all we need to sort out any problems or mistakes that there were. So whether that’s to do with the IPCC or the UEA. I think the IPCC is going to look into its procedures, [with] the UEA there’s an enquiry going on. You need to clear those things up. But then at the same time you need to say to people at the same time “look, whatever errors there are in the IPCC, or whatever allegations there are about the UEA doesn’t undermine the overall climate science.”
We need to say it, I think scientists need to be more active in saying it it The NGOs obviously do say it. I think business needs to say it. I actually think Richard Lambert from the CBI said it well. He said “I’m not a scientist, I don’t know much about science but I know a lot about risk.” I think that’s a very good way of putting it. So I think we need to get out there and say the real picture to people.”
On Nuclear “Given the experience the Finns are having with one of the new ‘easy to install’ nuclear power plants we’ve been considering, and the still unresolved question of a safe, secure and long lasting storage solution for radioactive waste, is the much lauded push on new nuclear build really an answer to climate change?….”
I don’t think any one single thing is an answer, but I think it [nuclear] is part of the answer. The Finnish situation is different from ours, we’re precisely going through the so-called generic design assessment so we avoid the problems the Finns have seen. I understand the concerns that people have about nuclear but I actually think if they long hard look at the overwhelming threat that climate change poses I think you come to the conclusion, -or at least I’ve come to the conclusion- that nuclear is part the answer. Now that doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t push on renewables which is very very important, but we also need nuclear in my opinion.
[MCFly is reminded of Chris Davies, Lib Dem MEP, saying as much about nuclear at the recent NWDA shindig that we eviscerated here.]
How do we realistically finance the tough measures a city like Manchester needs to take to h it our carbon targets- do we need a reformed or reinvigorated government bond regime?
I think there are all kinds of issues we should look at. I think what is clear is that we need the right system of incentives in place and we try and do that through our various obligations. I think we need a good/better system of financing. I will have more to say next week about fiancing for home energy efficiency and the way local authorities can be involved in that- they do have a central role to play in relation to climate change. I think the financing is difficult in the coming years but – you’d expect me to say this- but I think we need to do all we can to protect the money we’ve [spent- inaudible?] on climate change and low carbon.
Say we wake up on May 7 or whenever the election is- with a Conservative Government. What would you hope that climate concerned people did in that situation?
Nice try, but I’m afraid I’m not going to fall for it. Look, this election is winnable for the Labour Party. I think it’s very important that we have a Labour Government, including on the issue of climate change. I don’t think that the Tories are fully committed to important aspects of this agenda, including on renewables. Because when you hear what they say about on-shore wind, which I think is a part of the answer, along with off-shore wind, I think it should worry us. When Kenneth Clarke, the shadow business secretary, says we shouldn’t have any on-shore turbines at all, that is really worrying. And so, the problem with the Tory Party is they see green as a piece of spin. It isn’t a piece of spin, it should be about substance. So I am going to do all I can to re-elect a Labour Government.