* Energy minister concerned about climate-, Euro-scepticism
* Says industry needs political consensus to invest
* Lib-Dems seek policy differentiation before 2015 vote
By William James
LONDON, Feb 13 Britain's efforts to combat
climate change are in danger of disarray because "partisan
politics" may scare off investors, Energy Minister Ed Davey said
Davey, a member of the junior coalition partner Liberal
Democrats, criticised both Prime Minister David Cameron's ruling
Conservatives and the opposition Labour party for endangering
plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage
investment in cleaner energy sources.
"If we are to persuade companies to make long-term
investments in Britain's low carbon future, they need to see
that there is a political consensus on energy and climate change
policy that rises above the normal everyday partisan politics,"
he said in a speech.
The intervention fits a strategy by the Liberal Democrats to
differentiate themselves from their political rivals before a
general election in May 2015.
The party's support has dwindled since the last election,
with some voters unhappy that they backtracked on core policies.
Latest polls give them 10 percent of the popular vote, down from
23 percent in 2010.
Davey accused some Conservative politicians of seizing on
anomalies in scientific data to cast doubt on climate change,
saying that they were causing some investors to worry that the
government might turn its back on "green" energy sources.
"This type of climate change denying conservatism is
wilfully ignorant," Davey said, although he added that the
number of sceptics was small and that Cameron himself was firmly
behind the climate change policy.
Nevertheless, some fringe members of Cameron's party have
played down the significance of climate change and opposed
renewable energy. Many face pressure from voters over the local
impact of wind farms and solar panels.
Conservative minister Michael Fallon, who shares an energy
and business remit in the government, rejected Davey's comments,
saying in a newspaper interview that "unthinking climate change
worship" had damaged British industry and put energy costs up.
Davey also criticised Conservatives who want to leave the
European Union, saying Britain was better able to influence the
world's biggest carbon emitters as part of the 28-country bloc.
He said "Europhobia" in parts of the Conservative party had
created a "diabolical cocktail that threatens the whole
long-term structure of UK climate change and energy policy."
He also criticised Labour, who in September promised to
freeze energy prices for 20 months if they won the election.
Davey said the price freeze was "ham-fisted",
counter-productive for consumers and a deterrent to investment.
"A price freeze is anti-competitive, reducing competition
further rather than extending it, taking us back to square one
again," he said, adding that it would mean lower energy bills.
"It also threatens to choke off the very investment in
renewables and energy infrastructure that the country
(Additional reporting by Ben Garside; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)