MPs vote no to 2030 decarbonisation target

MPs have voted not to include an amendment in the third reading of the energy bill that will commit the UK to a near-carbon free power sector by 2030.

The anticipated defeat saw a narrow win by the Government with 290 MPs voting against the target and 267 voting for it.

Devised by the Conservative chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee Tim Yeo and Ed Miliband’s Special Envoy for Climate Change and the Environment Barry Gardiner, the amendment would have set a limit of 50 grams of CO2 emitted per Kwh by 2030.

Its supporters say the target would reduce the uncertainty surrounding investment in the UK’s low carbon economy and help the country to meet its legal target of achieving an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050.

The amendment, which would also ensure that the framework to deliver decarbonisation is in place by 2014, is supported by businesses coalitions, environmental campaigners and think-tanks as well as the Committee on Climate Change.

During the energy bill debate which preceded the vote today, Barry Gardiner said: “The secretary of state calls it his Grand Bargain with the chancellor. It is more like a Faustian pact.

“Old coal will be allowed to provide baseload beyond 2023, gas will be encouraged to provide baseload up until 2045 and the UK will lose the jobs and growth in low-carbon technologies that we need for economic renewal. Not since Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage has a worse deal been struck.”

Yeo claimed that accepting the 2030 decarbonisation target “would place Britain in the vanguard of the new Industrial Revolution.”

However, Secretary of State, Ed Davey had backed the Government’s position, which wanted the target to be delayed until after the next election in 2016.

“Everything in this Bill is based on the premise that we need to significantly decarbonise our power sector in order to meet climate targets,” he said.

Davey added: “We secured a landmark agreement across the Coalition to treble support for low-carbon investment to £7.6bn in 2020, and we are reforming the market to provide the certainty required to attract investment in renewables, new nuclear, CCS and demand reduction.

“We have listened to views and added a clause to enable us to set a decarbonisation target for the power sector in 2016. No political party had this issue in their manifesto, and this will be a world first, an issue that this Coalition Government has addressed head on.”

Conor McGlone

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie