Climate policy will ‘push energy efficiency hardest’

Energy efficiency will be key to reaching Britain's emission targets as the most cost-effective means of cutting emissions, the Government's chief scientist has indicated.

The forthcoming Energy White Paper will set out to achieve the target 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050 through six major pathways – renewables, energy efficiency, new nuclear power stations, carbon capture and storage, decentralised energy and microgeneration, and combined heat and power stations – Sir David Kind said.

Speaking at London’s Chatham House on Wednesday, he pointed to energy efficiency as a priority area:

“The big cost benefit comes from dealing with energy efficiency. We have become very inattentive to our use of energy,” he said.

He gave the example of BP which had introduced a carbon cap and trade system across its companies at a cost of £25m and saved £650m by improving energy efficiency alone.

“BP did anything more than focus the attention of company directors on managing use of energy,” he said.

He suggested that the White Paper would aim to deliver Britain’s target carbon cuts through the cumulative effect of the six pathways, including controversial measures like new nuclear build and carbon capture and storage.

Sir David King said he expected the transport sector to be the hardest hit by the measures included in the White Paper, which the Government had previously said would be out by Christmas, but has now admitted publication will be delayed until next year.

“If you look at the sector that will sweat hardest then I think it will be transport, and within transport yes, I think it will be aviation,” he said.

But even if it may be the most vulnerable, this will not mean concessions for the transport sector, he said.

The energy review team is working with Government departments to “push each sector as far as it will go bearing in mind that we don’t hurt our GDP growth,” Sir David King said.

Carbon cuts are by no means incompatible with economic growth, he added – UK carbon dioxide emissions fell by 14% while the economy grew by 40%.

“An advanced economy can continue to grow with diminishing emissions of greenhouse gases,” he said.

New technologies are also expected to provide a “wedge” of carbon cuts alongside the six main areas listed above. Sir David King mentioned the new Energy Technologies Institute, a public-private venture expected to receive £1bn in funding over the next ten years, should help deliver new technology solutions to climate change.

More information on the Energy Technologies Institute is available on the DTI website.

Goska Romanowicz

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