Climate goals at risk as energy plans unveiled
There's no getting away from it: today is a kick in the teeth for everyone working towards a low-carbon future in the UK.
After months of delay, the Government has announced the contents of its 'Energy Bill', due to be formally published next week.
Ignore the Government spin, the headline news is this: the Bill doesn't contain a crucial target for making our power sector carbon-free. It's a green light for business-as-usual, high carbon, high cost energy generation for decades to come.
While some media headlines are claiming £100s will be added to the average household energy bill to pay for more green power, in reality this announcement signals a continued addiction to expensive fossil-fuels.
Household bills have doubled in the past decade thanks almost entirely to the soaring price of gas. The only long term solution to driving them down is to get off gas by reducing energy demand and switching to renewables. Today's announcement does the reverse – paving the way for a gas-fired future that neither the climate nor households can afford.
2030 target for clean power
The crucial element – glaring in its omission – is a long term plan for clean power. Once the Energy Bill is law, it will determine whether our electricity comes from dirty fossil-fuels or renewables. A target, in the Bill, for carbon-free power by 2030 is essential.
The Government's own independent advisors the Committee on Climate Change say this is necessary – and a vast coalition of businesses, green groups, charities, faith organisations, parliamentary committees, the Labour party and Ed Davey's own Liberal Democrats agree.
Why has this been shunned? We've largely got Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and his anti-environment henchmen to thank. He's torpedoed his Government's stated ambition to be the 'greenest ever' – and risked sinking UK climate change efforts at the same time.
Osborne is hell bent on building 20 new gas-fired power stations hiking up bills and busting our climate targets in the process. A 2030 clean power target is not compatible with this.
In 'return' for accepting the lack of a power target, it appears Energy Secretary Ed Davey has secured funds to meet a pre-existing target to source 30% of electricity from renewables by 2020.
It's not much of a win – this target was already legally binding, the money had to come from somewhere.
So Osborne's Liberal Democrat cabinet colleagues, unless they vote through major changes to the Bill in parliament, will be delivering the Chancellor's reckless dash for gas.
As the Bill begins its journey through parliament the fight for clean energy will intensify. We'll be calling on our supporters to apply huge pressure on politicians to turn this around. It'll be tough, but Friends of the Earth activists have done it countless times before – not least in securing the world-leading Climate Change Act in the first place – and I'm confident you'll do it again.
Thanks for reading,
Andy Atkins, Executive Director
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