Almost three quarters of Britain’s company directors support decarbonisation of energy to mitigate climate change, and even more are in favour of greater use of solar, offshore wind and wave and tidal energy, according to new research.
Support for fracking for shale gas among directors is higher than the UK population but the process is less popular with company bosses than all renewable technologies except onshore wind.
The findings, in a survey for the Institute of Directors (IoD) released last week, were used by the organisation to back-up its support for shale gas and criticise government policy for failing to deliver secure and competitively-priced energy.
Dan Lewis, senior infrastructure policy adviser at the IoD, said governments since 2002 had focussed on cutting carbon emissions but underplayed the delivery of secure and affordable power. He urged the government to “reconsider the direction of travel”. He said:
“Government policy at the moment is creating all sorts of bizarre outcomes. Instead of accelerating moves to safely frack for gas and oil in the UK, we are importing coal and oil from Russia and gas and oil from Norway, with extra costs and emissions that involves.”
But a close look at the data, based on findings from nearly 1,000 IoD members, tells another story.
More than 80% of participants support increased deployment of solar and wave and tidal technologies. This compares with 56% who support fracking for oil and gas.
Just over half (59%) agreed that government policy had increased the deployment of renewables but less than half (45%) thought it had cut carbon emissions.
When asked whether the UK needed to decarbonise energy to mitigate the effects of climate change, 74% either agreed strongly or tended to agree.
James Murray, of the website Business Green, said the IoD could easily have interpreted the results differently.
“Against a backdrop where large swathes of the media, including a sizeable chunk of the business press, have attacked renewables over their cost and efficacy a vast majority of business leaders at one of the UK’s more conservative business groups want increased deployment of renewables.
“Had the IoD chosen a different angle this could just have easily been a story about business leaders attacking the government for slowing the deployment of onshore wind, solar, and biomass, rather than a story about energy security, affordability, and fracking.
“UK energy policy has arguably failed since the turn of the century, but the IoD survey suggests part of the failure has been an inability to deliver deeper decarbonisation and more investment in wildly popular renewables.”
998 members of the IoD replied to its survey from 11-26 May 2016