UK
28/09/2013 04:43 BST | Updated 27/11/2013 05:12 GMT

George Osborne: 'Britain Shouldn't Be In Front Of Climate Change Fight'

Chancellor George Osborne
PA
Chancellor George Osborne

Britain should not be 'in front' of the world in tackling climate change, George Osborne has said.

On the eve of the Conservative Party conference, the Chancellor admitted the Government would keep a "very, very close eye on the affordability of energy prices going forward", but he dismissed Labour leader Ed Miliband's price freeze plans.

The Chancellor suggested that Britain should not price itself out of international energy markets by placing too heavy an environmental burden on suppliers.

He was speaking after a landmark report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global warming was "unequivocal" and human influence on the climate clear.

Mr Osborne told The Times: "I want to provide for the country the cheapest energy possible, consistent with having it reliable, in other words as a steady supply, and consistent with us playing our part in an international effort to tackle climate change.

"But I don't want us to be the only people out there in front of the rest of the world. I certainly think we shouldn't be further ahead of our partners in Europe."

The Chancellor attacked plans backed by Labour to eliminate carbon from the power sector by 2030.

He argued that for an aluminium smelter to leave the UK and go to another country would not make much difference to climate change.

But it would make a "huge difference" to those who lost their jobs as a result, he said.

Energy companies claim that green taxes are to blame for around 10% of the average household's energy bill.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon is understood to be looking at ways to reduce the impact of environmental measures have on household energy bills, The Times reported.

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The Energy Companies Obligation, which forces suppliers to pay lagging bills for benefit claimants and pensioners, is thought to be a potential target.

A moratorium on inland windfarms is also believed to be under consideration, in a move that would appeal to many grassroots Tory supporters.

Mr Osborne also said he would not be matching Labour's cost-of-living proposals, claiming that some would turn out to be "illegal or unworkable".