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Energy policy needs clarity and consistency if we’re to create a truly sustainable future

As Arnie said, people can’t have their meat and eat it – what we consume does have a direct impact on the environment. Likewise, we can’t demand energy, without thinking about the environmental consequences – or indeed the implications for our energy infrastructure. But as the UK Government’s energy policy remains as difficult to pinpoint as The Terminator’s accent itself, where does that leave the sustainability agenda?

As we approach the end of 2015 and the twenty-first session of the UN Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris came to a close, it’s clear that all participants had some tough resolutions to make.

One such commitment – an overarching theme throughout – is recognising that sustainability cannot exist in isolation and that public policy plays an important role in creating sustainable energy infrastructure – both in terms of articulating coherent strategies and creating clear vehicles for finance.

Not only does public policy help to increase public awareness and understanding but it also sets out the regulatory and institutional frameworks that influence developers, investors and consumers. As such public policy is a key determining factor in the development of new energy infrastructure and our capacity to reduce carbon emissions.

In the wake of recent government announcements on the closure of coal-power stations and the decision to cut financial support for renewables and CCS, we’re reminded of the importance of having a clear, succinct strategy, backed-up by robust mechanisms for finance – and the risk that the alternative poses.

What’s evident from the resulting political backlash and loss of faith from UK businesses is that we are in urgent need of such a defined approach, and as the COP21 highlighted, we’re at real risk of being left behind. Business and consumers are left wondering where our energy is going to come from as the media warns that the lights may have to go out. Clearly, neither a dash for gas or a green rush is the answer but balance and diversity are key.

So the question that remains is this; as we look ahead and plan for a more sustainable, low-carbon future, how can we take “action today” and what more can be done to ensure public policy facilitates this? Let’s hope the policymakers have the answer.

Freyja Moorhead headshot

Freyja Moorhead, account manager