Queen's Speech boost for UK low carbon economy

The Queen's Speech this month included the latest energy bill designed to move the UK to a lower carbon economy.

The proposed new energy bill would also give sector regulator Ofgem more power to protect poorer households from unfair pricing.

The Queen said in the speech, which is written by the government and outlines legislation to be introduced in the year ahead: "Legislation will be introduced to support carbon capture and storage and to help more of the most vulnerable households with their energy bills."

Also included in the speech was a Floods and Water Management bill "to protect communities against flooding and to improve the management of water supplies."

The proposed new energy bill includes a £9.5 billion levy on electricity suppliers to subsidise the building of four Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration schemes to cut emissions from coal power plants.

Ed Miliband, climate change secretary, said: "Carbon capture and storage is a key technology to tackle climate change, and 18 days ahead of the crucial talks in Copenhagen, this bill sets up a new CCS Incentive to support the development of up to four commercial-scale CCS projects in the UK."

But some green groups believe the bill does not go far enough and want legally-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions from future coal-fired power plants.

Jim Footner, of Greenpeace, said: "This speech signalled the government's desire to fund its demonstration programme of carbon capture and storage.

"But it should have included a tough regulation ensuring that new coal plants will not be allowed to operate at the expense of the climate.

"It will be easier for the government to sell public funding for carbon capture and storage to cash-strapped British consumers if it goes hand-in-hand with a legal limit on emissions from power stations.

"And this legal limit would make sure that the coal utilities can't simply get paid to carry on causing climate change.

"The Government should include in this energy bill provisions to introduce this limit immediately and safeguard the UK's climate change commitments."

The energy bill also includes more powers for Ofgem to protect vulnerable customers from market price exploitation and a rebate scheme to help those on low incomes.

Last Wednesday's (November 18) Queen's Speech, the centrepiece of the state opening of parliament, also featured a Flooding and Water Management Bill aimed at easing flood problems.

It will give local authorities more responsibility for putting in place sustainable drainage systems to ease surface water flooding.

Water companies will have more power to control water usage during droughts and manage supply better.

And, the Environment Agency will be given more responsibility for ensuring there are enough flood prevention measures and it is able to tackle emergencies better.

To read the full text of the Queen's Speech go to the following Link.


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