Energy Bill amendment could see decarbonisation target set next year

Climate Change Select Committee members have proposed an amendment to the Energy Bill that would require the Government to set a decarbonisation target for the power sector by 2014 instead of 2016.

Yesterday, Tim Yeo, chair of the Climate Change Committee, and Barry Gardiner, a member of the committee, tabled an amendment to the Bill that would require the Government to introduce the target as early as April next year.

Many have argued that delaying the 2030 decarbonisation target has discouraged investment in the green sector, while rows between MPs have seen the coalition Government disagree over when the target should be set.

DECC and the Treasury compromised by postponing the target till 2016 when the Committee on Climate Change provides its advice in the fifth carbon budget.

While Conservative back-benchers have fought to hold off from setting a target, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has expressed his support in setting a target now, rather than in 2016.

Standing before the Liaison Committee of MPs this week, Clegg maintained he was in favour of setting a target before 2016 but added that the current review date was “better than no intermediate target at all”.

Commenting on the Energy Bill amendment, Keith Allott, WWF-UK chief advisor on climate change, said: “Tim Yeo’s amendment will give confidence to businesses and investors now, not at some vague point in the future as proposed by the Government.

“A carbon intensity target would help the UK attract investment in a new British-based supply chain with thousands of jobs across the country and show that we’re serious about reducing emissions from the power sector and embracing clean, renewable energy.

“His amendment also puts the advice of the independent Committee on Climate Change back in the Energy Bill. The Government has started to show a disturbing willingness to question the Committee’s advice; ignoring it brings into question their commitment to deliver on the UK’s world-leading Climate Change Act.”

However, after months of criticism on the Governments lack of commitment on decarbonisation, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of energy efficiency and driving a green economy.

Speaking at the official launch of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) new Energy Efficiency Mission this week, David Cameron said the UK could not afford to overlook green energy.

“Far from being a drag on growth, making our energy sources more sustainable, our energy consumption more efficient, and our economy more resilient to energy price shocks – those things are a vital part of the growth and wealth that we need,” he said.

Leigh Stringer

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