Carbon Emission Targets Delayed Until After The Election In New Energy Bill

Government Kicks Carbon Emission Targets Into The Long Grass

The government has decided to delay a decision to set carbon emission targets until 2016; after the next election.

Labour accused the Liberal Democrats in the coalition of a "humiliating failure", and environmentalists condemned the bill, saying it would make it very hard to meet the UK's law on climate change.

Details of the bill were announced late on 22 November, although the bill itself will not be published until the first week in December.

An estimated £110bn is needed in the next decade to renew the UK's ageing electricity infrastructure, with much set to go into low-carbon power sources such as wind farms to cut emissions.

Some pro-green initiatives were announced in the bill; £7.6 billion is to be put towards low-carbon electricity infrastructure by 2020, but household bills are set to rise to pay for it; media reports suggest the increase to household bills could be anywhere between £100 and £170 a year.

Many environmentalists believe the decision to delay introducing carbon emission targets was symptomatic of the apparent lack of support for green energy in the Conservative party.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, told Sky News: "By failing to agree to any carbon target for the power sector until after the next election, David Cameron has allowed a militant tendency within his own ranks to derail the Energy Bill.

"It's a blatant assault on the greening of the UK economy that leaves consumers vulnerable to rising gas prices, and sends billions of pounds of clean-tech investment to our economic rivals."

Chancellor George Osborne has been criticised by green activists for jeopardising climate goals

And Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth's executive director, told ITV: "The coalition has caved in to Osborne's reckless dash for gas and banged the final nail in the coffin of Cameron's pledge to lead the greenest Government ever.

This decision, motivated by outdated ideology, will help keep the nation hooked on increasingly expensive gas, drive away green jobs and investment and jeopardise UK climate goals."

The energy secretary Ed Davey tried to calm matters on 23 November by saying that although there is no 2030 target, the inclusion of a power to establish one in 2016, should be seen as a victory.

According to Press Association, he said: "This is a durable agreement across the coalition against which companies can invest and support jobs and our economic recovery.

"The decisions we've reached are true to the coalition agreement. They mean we can introduce the Energy Bill next week and have essential electricity market reforms up and running by 2014 as planned.

"They will allow us to meet our legally binding carbon reduction and renewable energy obligations and will bring on the investment required to keep the lights on and bills affordable for consumers."

Chancellor George Osborne has repeatedly battled with ministers over green measures, believing a focus on green energy rather than gas-powered could hamper economic growth.

The situation was exacerbated last week when an undercover reporter recorded Tory MP Peter Lilley claiming Osborne "privately regrets all the [green] commitments that have been made".

"Basically I think Osborne wanted to get people into key positions who could begin to get the government off the hook from commitments they made very foolishly," Lilley told the reporter.

The Guardian published sections from the same video which showed another Tory MP, Chris Heaton-Harris, boasting he had encouraged anti-wind farm columnist James Delingpole to stand in the Corby by-election.

He also spoke positively about recently promoted Tory ministers who he believe share his anti-wind farm agenda who he said could keep Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey from controlling policy.

“It’s looking a lot better with [environment secretary] Owen Paterson and [energy minister] John Hayes. I’ve still got Ed Davey to dump on from a height from somewhere," he said.

Previously, Conservative energy minister John Hayes hit the headlines at the end of October, when he told the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail that “enough is enough” for onshore wind farms, saying it was “extraordinary” that so many wind turbines had been “peppered” around the country without due regard to local communities.

Huge amounts of money has already been invested in the wind energy sector

Huffington Post UK reported on 6 November that wind energy experts believed investment in on and offshore windfarms in the UK was here to stay, despite any short-term government tinkering with policy.

Aris Karcanias, management consultant at Navigant told Huff Post UK: "What politicians are saying and what they are doing is quite different – recent comments seem to be contrary to what’s actually happening; they’re confusing the situation rather than supplying clarity to it.

"They've invested so much to establish new jobs around the renewables sector and to make it competitive – it would be silly to not capitalise on that heavy investment."

The government's decision to delay carbon emission targets comes after the UN published the Emissions Gap Report, coordinated with the European Climate Foundation, which showed greenhouse gas emissions levels have risen by as much as 20% since 2000, and are now around 14% above where they need to be in 2020.

The report also warned the gap between what countries pledged to do for curbing carbon emissions and what they actually did is increasing, pushing the planet even more faster towards runaway climate change.

In 2010, countries agreed to limit temperature rise to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but many countries have failed to enact emissions cuts to back up their promises. The UN has said cuts of 25% to 40% are needed to limit temperature rise.


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