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Green Taxes Must Be Transparent

By Katie Anderson on November 9, 2011

Conservative MP Tim Yeo has called for greater transparency over the way in which green taxes are applied to energy bills.

Noting his party’s failure to become the ‘greenest ever’ Government, the head of the Energy and Climate Change Committee suggested energy bills ought to include details of green taxes in order to give rise to a “rational debate” on how a low-carbon future for the UK can be funded.

According to the industry regulator Ofgem, the green tax or levy increases the average annual energy (gas and electricity) bill by around 6 per cent (or £80). Mr Yeo is concerned about the way green levies are applied to bills.

Mr Yeo said: “The danger is that the levies are now hidden. The cost of the levies should be published on a regular basis. We need to be honest with the public that we need to keep the lights on and in a low-carbon way – and the consequence of that is higher bills. Then there can be a rational debate over which renewables are most cost-effective”.

The cost of green levies on electricity and gas central heating bills have been greatly exaggerated by elements of the British media. The Press Complaints Commission ordered a full retraction last month after the Daily Mail had suggested green levies amounted to a “£200 stealth charge” on energy bills. No doubt many readers who were already dismayed by the high cost of gas and electricity decided the future ought not to be green upon reading the Daily Mail’s article.

Green levies are necessary, however, to fund the UK’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, such as solar power. Although many people remain sceptical of renewables, the need to reduce carbon emissions while finding clean, sustainable sources of energy has never been so urgent. Now is certainly no time for the UK to turn its back on the future to shave a little money off energy bills.

As Andy Atkins, the executive director of Friends of the Earth, noted: “In reality, the cost is a fraction of our current energy bills… it’s our addiction to expensive fossil fuels that’s really ramping up bills”.