Divest-invest: UK’s biggest energy lobby ‘flips’ on renewable energy


In a U-turn from ‘business as usual’, the UK’s biggest energy lobby group has called for a stronger focus on energy efficiency and a greater roll-out of renewables.

It’s a change which bolsters the case for UK churches to ‘divest and invest’ – divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy technologies.

The move has attracted the attention of investors and policy experts alike. Nicky Mayey Chief Executive at E3G energy consultancy said it’s ‘a fundamental shift from the old energy business model because it’s not fit for the future’.

For many years Energy UK, which brands itself as the voice of energy industry, has in effect been the lobby group of the ‘big six’ energy suppliers. But in a report entitled ‘Pathways for the GB Electricity Sector to 2030’ the group sets out a vision for the energy sector markedly different to previous offerings.

Catherine Mitchell, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Exeter said, ‘This report reads almost as if Energy UK has flipped to the other side. I take this to mean that their future is in new energy systems rather than the old’.

The change in tack coincides with altered membership of Energy UK, which now has new suppliers and generators making up almost half of its members.

Energy UK is calling for a stronger focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy

It also highlights the discrepancy between existing policy commitments of the UK Government, made prior to 2010 and enshrined in measures such as the Climate Change Act (2008), and the slew of policy reversals since May 2015 which are widely regarded as designed to slow the roll-out of energy efficiency and renewable measures and create space in the UK energy market for unabated gas and nuclear.

Energy UK’s Chief Executive Lawrence Slade, said that government cuts to renewable energy had undermined investor confidence. According to the EY Renewable Energy Attractiveness Index the UK fell from 8th to 11th in the global ranking in September 2015. Yet the market for energy efficiency and renewable energy is set to become one of the world’s biggest, estimated to be worth £1.4 – 2 trillion a year by 2020.

The International Energy Agency predict that investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy in excess of £36.6 trillion will be needed between now and 2035 to make the transition from fossil fuels a reality.

Through Bright Now, Operation Noah is calling on Churches in the UK to divest from fossil fuels and use their investment portfolios to accelerate the transition to a clean energy present.

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