Tory row erupts over response to US green subsidies after Hunt refuses to go ‘toe to toe’ with Biden
Conservative MPs are divided over plans for the UK’s response to the US green subsidies scheme after the Chancellor said Britain would not go “toe to toe” with president Joe Biden.
Net zero secretary Grant Shapps today unveiled proposals to ‘power up’ Britain with new energy security measures, in what was expected to be a major raft of climate policies.
Plans had originally been branded ‘Green Day’, according to Bloomberg, and ministers were rumoured to be delivering a response to the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – a major stateside legislative package on domestic energy production and clean energy investment.
But rather than net zero, the decarbonisation initiatives centred on securing UK power networks, and the government has confirmed the US IRA green subsidies response will come this autumn.
Jeremy Hunt took a swipe at Biden, writing in the Times newspaper that the IRA scheme was “not the starting pistol” in the green tech race and branding it a “distortive global subsidy race”.
“That race started decades ago in the UK, with the world now playing catch-up,” he said.
The UK generated 40 per cent of its power from renewable sources last year, Hunt said, double that of the US.
While Britain invested “more in green growth per year in the past two years” than planned annual US IRA spending in the next decade, relative to the size of the economies, he added.
But splits have emerged in his wake, with reported fears of a shift away from the net zero zeal of Rishi Sunak’s prime ministerial predecessors Boris Johnson and Theresa May.
Former COP26 president Alok Sharma, a green enthusiast, told Politico it was a question of the government’s “level of commitment” to eco-efforts.
He called for a “big bazooka moment” and warted the UK risked being “left behind” on the global stage.
Chris Skidmore, who led a key review into net zero progress, said the Chancellor’s remarks were “unfortunate” and called the US’ $369bn in green subsidies and tax breaks a “gamechanger”.
He told the BBC the government should move towards “collaboration not competition” and that there was now a “new market economy” while the UK faces “an economic risk”.
Hunt has described efforts to transform the energy system as a “matter of national security” and said unlocking private investment via the green finance strategy would “generate more of the energy we need in Britain and create new industries and jobs that are built to last”.