Huhne unveils latest Carbon Plan

Energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne has unveiled how the UK will meet its long-term carbon targets in the latest Carbon Plan, saying progress is "on track".

Published yesterday (December 1) the fourth Carbon Plan sets out how the UK will become a “more efficient, low carbon and sustainable economy”, within its energy policy framework in a bid to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

The budget, which covers the period 2023 – 2027, was set in law in June 2011 and requires emissions to be cut by 50% on 1990 levels. It also sets out the proposals and policies for meeting the first four carbon budgets, which were first introduced in 2008.

The long-term goal of the plan is to achieve an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050.

Figures in the latest plan show that emissions from power stations have fallen by 25% since 1990 levels, while a quarter of electricity generation is now low carbon, as a result of 16% of the UK’s electricity coming from nuclear power.

Transport emissions were found to be roughly the same, with emissions rising in the years up to 2007, which the Government has attributed to economic growth. However, the introduction of new technologies and increased use of biofuels is expected to help lower emissions.

Commenting on the plan, Mr Huhne said that it demonstrates the UK is “living up to our promise to show climate leadership”, as well as showing the “gradual rebalancing of our economy away from carbon is achievable and, in the long run, highly desirable”.

He added: “Every bit of progress we make is one more step away from import dependency, away from price volatility and from the emissions that threaten our way of life. Our national economic interest is to be found in a cost-effective transition to low carbon, to an economy that is more resilient, innovative and efficient.”

The plan has been welcomed by the Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA), which supports the delivery of energy services using combined heat and power (CHP), as the “start of a real commitment” by government to place CHP low-carbon heating on the agenda.

CHPA director Graham Meeks, said: “The Plan reveals, probably for the first time, an enduring role for combined heat and power in homes, buildings and industry – starting today and reaching through to 2050.

“This approach is vital when it comes to the question of heat, which accounts for half our emissions and which for many is the greater part of the energy bill The Plan also highlights the central role of district heating, integrating a diversity of low-carbon energy sources to achieve an effective decarbonisation pathway for our urban centres.”

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is also supportive the plan, saying it would give investors a “clearer picture” of how the UK will make the tranisition to a low- carbon economy.

CBI head of energy and climate change policy Dr Matthew Brown, said: “We welcome the Government’s increased focus on energy efficiency. Businesses would benefit from having a framework which encourages them to be more energy efficient but doesn’t damage their competitiveness.

“The support for energy-intensive industries which the Chancellor announced this week was a very positive start. The Government must now tackle the overly complicated carbon taxation and reporting regime.”

However, Labour shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex warned that it is essential that Mr Huhne clarifies spending on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), after Huhne admitted that development had slipped.

Mr Greatrex said: “It is vital that Chris Huhne spells out exactly how the Treasury’s raid on the £1bn CCS budget will impact the development of this technology on a commercial scale.

“There is no certainty or clarity from this Tory-led government on CCS. All we hear is confused platitudes and all we see is further dithering.”

To support the Carbon Plan a revised 2050 carbon online calculator has been developed by the government to enable users to compare the cost of different energy systems, or the cost of doing nothing.

A full copy of the Carbon Plan can be downloaded here.

Carys Matthews

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