Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Examination of the Third Report of the Citizens' Assembly (Resumed)

12:00 pm

Lord Deben:

It is that we managed to convince the government that it should allow £7.6 billion to be spent in transforming the electricity system. That must be significant. Getting a Conservative Party Chancellor of the Exchequer in a very tough time to do that and defend it right the way through was of great importance, despite the attacks made by newspapers and suchlike on what they thought were green taxes. Connected with it was we realised nobody listened to the climate change committee when we talked about the price of energy. Nobody understood what a kilowatt hour was, let alone the cost per kilowatt hour. We were the ones who decided to talk about bills and what people actually paid. This enabled us to show that the effect of the measures we were taking was to lower the amount of electricity people needed. If they had new boilers or toasters, they all used less electricity. The clincher for us was we were able to say one was paying about £9 a month more than one would otherwise pay for the green measures. However, bills are £20 a month less because one is using less electricity. There is a saving of £11 a month on that basis. For the first time there was a connection between what people understood and what we were actually doing. I consider this to be one of our real triumphs in communication. One of the reasons I say that is that it annoyed the doubters enormously. They were so angry because it got rid of their only real argument which was fairly pathetic one that we were laying all of the weight on the poor who were having to pay for it. The poor were benefiting significantly, even though our system in the United Kingdom was not as sensitive to deprivation as it should have been.