Green groups up in arms as decarbonisation target abandoned

Green campaigners have reacted furiously to news that the Government have delayed a decision whether or not to set a decarbonisation target range for 2030.

The World Wildlife Fund called the postponement of a decision until 2016 “seriously disappointing” describing it as “a failure of leadership”.

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey released a statement at midnight, confirming an agreement had been reached on the upcoming delayed Energy Bill, which will allow it to be introduced next week.

Davey 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.”

Davey remained adamant that the energy bill would still cater for a low carbon economy.

“[The Bill] 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.”

However, Friends of the Earth said the news of a delay until after the next election demonstrated more evidence of Osborne’s “fossil-fuel addiction”.

Friends of the Earth’s executive director Andy Atkins said: “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“This decision motivated by outdated ideology will help keep the nation hooked on increasingly expensive gas, drive away green jobs and investment and jeopardise UK climate goals.”

Just yesterday Labour’s leader Ed Miliband called on the Government to commit to the 2030 decarbonisation target in the upcoming energy bill, stressing that already billions of pounds in investment is “going elsewhere or being put on hold”. (link)

Davey demonstrated promising signs for the future of renewables announcing that under the Levy Control Framework, market support available for low carbon electricity investment would increase to at least £7.6bn a year by 2020.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), this would diversify the UK’s energy mix to avoid excessive gas import dependency by increasing the amount of electricity coming from renewables from 11% today to around 30% in 2020.

Renewables groups welcomed this news, claiming it was proof that the sector had ‘rock solid support’ from the Government.

RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “This is a crucial announcement for the renewable energy sector. The news that there is rock solid support across Government for renewable energy, and clear evidence that Treasury and the Department of Energy and Climate Change are in step, provide the industry with exactly the kind of assurances we’ve been calling for. This blows the last few months of political infighting completely out of the water.”

Davey also announced other measures to be included in the energy bill such as the creation of a Government-owned company. It will act as a single counterparty to give investors confidence to enter into new long term Contracts for Difference (CfD) for low carbon electricity projects.

Conor McGlone

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