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Clegg To Deny Coalition Split Over Green Energy

(c) Sky News 2012

Nick Clegg is to deny splits within the coalition over carbon emissions reduction, as he announces a £100m investment in energy efficiency.

The Deputy Prime Minister will say later today that ministers are "unreservedly committed" to helping the low-carbon sector thrive, insisting that "no one in Government" wants to depart from the programme to decarbonise Britain's economy as part of the fight against climate change.

Mr Clegg will tell an audience of business figures at an energy conference in London's Lancaster House  that the UK is "leading from the front" in a global revolution towards cleaner sources of energy.

He will announce a £100m contract by UK Green Investments with fund managers Equitix and SDCL to provide initial funding to encourage foreign and domestic investment in non-domestic energy efficiency.

And he will hail the announcement by recycling firm Closed Loop of a £12m expansion of its plastics purification plant in Dagenham, east London, which is expected to create and safeguard 100 jobs.

Many environmentalists were dismayed by Chancellor George Osborne's comment to last year's Tory conference that, while the Government would invest in green energy, "we're not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business".

And the Treasury is understood to have demanded cuts of 25% in subsidies for onshore windpower in a tussle between Mr Osborne and Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey, which ended last month with a 10% cut but question marks hanging over the 2030 target for decarbonising the economy.

Mr Clegg will today play down the spat as part of the "internal discussions and debates on the balance and sequencing of different policies" that are a normal feature of any government.

And he will say: "This coalition Government is unreservedly committed to helping our low-carbon sector thrive - no ifs, no buts. And we want to support the shift by traditional industry to cleaner sources of energy - while of course recognising the pressures they face."

The Liberal Democrat leader will add that ministers recognise the industry wants "predictability" and "consistency" from the Government on low-carbon energy policy.

And he will insist that the coalition remains "bold" in its ambition for a "clean, green, low-carbon economy".