The UK’s biggest energy lobbying group has shifted its position on green energy and will start campaigning for low-carbon alternatives for the first time, in what environmental campaigners are describing as a watershed moment.

Lawrence Slade, the chief executive of Energy UK, which represents the big six providers and has been regarded as a defender of fossil fuels, said the shift was urgent in order not to be left behind.

“No one wants to be running the next Nokia,” he said, referring to the mobile phone company that was overtaken by forward-looking rivals. “I want to drive change and move away from accepted (old-style) thinking.”

This is a major turnaround for an organisation that has historically been criticised by consumer and green groups as a dinosaur protecting the vested interest of incumbent supply companies such as British Gas, SSE and others.

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