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Davey declares Britain must lead climate change fight

On the eve of a ground-breaking UN report into the impacts of climate change, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has declared Britain must spearhead the worldwide battle against global warming.

Climate change is "hugely threatening our way of life, in the UK, Europe and the world," Mr Davey told The Observer.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey made the declaration ahead of the UN climate change report's release. Credit: ITV News

"Not to lead is deeply irresponsible. If you don't lead, you will not bring others with you," the Lib Dem MP said.

His comments come as the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change prepares to release a report that is expected to warn of catastrophic consequences to food supplies, livelihoods, health and security across the world if climate change remains unchecked.

Ed Davey will give Ofgem 'whatever support they need'

Energy Secretary Ed Davey will give Ofgem "whatever support they need" after the watchdog announced a major competition inquiry into the 'Big Six' energy firms.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change's Twitter account tweeted:

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Siemens jobs 'reduce our reliance on foreign imports'

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said the deal would help to keep bills down. Credit: PA

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: "This deal is excellent news for the people of Hull and the Humber, the UK, the wind industry, and our energy security.

"We are attracting investment by backing enterprise with better infrastructure and lower taxes.

"As well as helping to keep the lights on and putting more than 1,000 people in work, this deal means we will help to keep consumer bills down as we invest in home-grown green energy and reduce our reliance on foreign imports."

Profits help British Gas 'shoulder £60bn commitments'

The MD of British Gas has issued a fresh statement in response to Energy Secretary Ed Davey's letter to Ofgem in which the Cabinet minister called on the regulator to probe 'Big Six' gas profits as part of an investigation across the industry.

Chris Weston said its parent company Centrica "does more than any other organisation to secure gas and power for British customers, with commitments totalling more than £60 billion, and we can only shoulder responsibilities on this scale if we are a profitable business". He added:

In the last six years we have invested £13.7 billion, which is equivalent to £1.85 for every £1 earned. We also support jobs and growth in Britain, directly employing more than 30,000 people. Our annual tax bill is around £1 billion, making us one of Britain’s biggest corporate tax-payers.

The current assessment of the energy market will be essential to rebuilding trust in the sector. We strongly support a proper, thorough and independent examination of the issues during this process.

Ed Davey accused of 'witch hunt' against energy firms

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has been accused by a leading trade union official of sparking a "witch hunt" against energy firms and threatening jobs by pursuing a vast investigation into the 'Big Six' energy companies and their profits.

Gary Smith, the national officer of the GMB union, was angered that British Gas, in particular, had been singled out by the Cabinet Minister in his letter to the energy watchdog Ofgem. Mr Smith said:

British Gas is probably the biggest employer of apprentices and trainees in the UK. Hundreds of apprenticeships in smart metering that would have been created this year probably won't be because of Davey's dithering over policy.

He now threatens to wreck thousands of more jobs. If an investigation is warranted it should have been carried out appropriately not by a ministerial leak to the press leading to a witch hunt.

Mr Davey's intervention was welcomed, though, by the Federation of Small Businesses, whose national chairman, John Allan, said:

Over 40% of all small businesses are with British Gas and it simply cannot be right that one company has such a dominant share, especially given the price of gas now accounts for between five to 10 per cent of total business costs for nearly one in 10 of the UK's smallest businesses.

The business energy market is in desperate need of reform and we want to see radical measures put in place to increase transparency in the market and allow small firms to switch to more competitive energy deals with ease.

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British Gas will 'participate fully' in profits discussions

British Gas has said it will "participate fully" in discussions about gas profits after being singled out by the Energy Secretary in his call to the industry watchdog to examine the 'Big Six' energy companies.

Ed Davey said in a letter to the head of Ofgem that British Gas had tended "to charge one of the highest prices over the past three years, and has been on average the most profitable".

British Gas issued the following statement in response:

There is an ongoing independent market assessment being conducted by the OFT (the Office of Fair Trading), Ofgem and the Competition & Markets Authority.

We welcome this and have complied with all the requests for data which we have received.

Further discussions have been arranged over the coming weeks in which we will fully participate.

The data referred to in the Secretary of State's letter has already been fully disclosed and in the public domain for a number of months.

We share the Secretary of State's wishes to see greater interconnection between the UK and other European energy markets and we also wish to see European markets open up to full retail competition.

British Gas has also fully embraced the Green Deal which is already beginning to have a positive impact in reducing consumer bills.

– British Gas

Labour: 'Nothing short of a price freeze will do'

Shadow energy and climate change minister Jonathan Reynolds accused Ed Davey of spending months defending energy firms despite evidence of overcharging.

Actions speak louder than words - and this Government has let the energy companies get away with increasing their profits on the back of spiralling bills for hard-pressed consumers.

If the Government wants to be taken seriously on energy bills, nothing less than a price freeze and action to stop these firms from overcharging in the future, as Labour has proposed, will do.

– Shadow energy and climate change minister Jonathan Reynolds

Ed Davey's urges energy probe in letter to Ofgem

Energy Secretary Ed Davey has urged Ofgem to look at the profits made in gas by the 'Big Six' energy companies:

Clearly you will wish to consider whether this is prima facie evidence of an issue in the market and so whether it merits a market investigation reference with the whole gamut of potential remedies that could follow including a break up of any companies found to have monopoly power to the detriment of the consumer.

Alternatively you may of course conclude that no action is needed or potentially some intermediate measure which can be taken by the sector regulator.

– An extract from Ed Davey's letter to Ofgem

Mr Davey's letter also suggests looking at whether the Big Six should adopt a different business model and how well British energy markets are linked to those in mainland Europe.

Ofgem said it would look at all evidence while compiling its report with the CMA and OFT. It declined to comment further.

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