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Lib Dem Ministers signs up to ambitious green energy targets

May 18, 2011 10:02 AM
Originally published by Liberal Democrats in Blackburn, Darwen, Hyndburn and Rossendale

Chris Huhne the Lib Dem Minister for Energy & Climate Change committed the UK to tough renewable energy targets.

It will mean halving our Carbon Emissions by 50% from their 1990 levels by 2025. This will enable the UK to be at the forefront of the green energy economy.

Here is the statement to the House of Commons in full.

Introduction

Mr Speaker, today I am announcing that the Government proposes to set an
ambitious target in law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with advice
from the independent Committee on Climate Change.

Rationale

Signing up to an ambitious Fourth Carbon Budget will result in no additional
costs to consumers during this parliament. We will undertake a review of
progress in early 2014 to ensure our own carbon targets are in line with the
EU's. And we are working up a package of measures to be announced by the end of
the year to help energy intensive industries adjust to the low-carbon industrial
transformation while remaining competitive.

Mr Speaker, by agreeing to the Committee on Climate Change's proposed level,
we are demonstrating our desire to drive the changes needed to turn the UK into
a dynamic, low carbon economy that is attractive to investors in the new and
growing low carbon sectors.

We are also sending a clear signal to the international community: that the
UK is committed to the low carbon economy. This will help us reach agreement in
Europe on moving to a 30% emissions reduction target - and build momentum toward
a legally binding global climate change deal

Background

The Climate Change Act 2008 sets a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
in the UK by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. The Act also requires
Government to set carbon budgets, which are limits on greenhouse gas emissions
in the UK for consecutive five year periods. These carbon budgets must be set at
least three budget periods in advance. They are designed to put emission
reductions on an appropriate and cost-effective pathway to our 2050 target.

The first three carbon budgets were set in 2009, following advice from the
independent Committee on Climate Change. The Fourth Carbon Budget - the limit on
emissions for the five year period from 2023 to 2027 - has to be set in law by
the end of June 2011.

As advised by the Committee on Climate Change, the level we propose setting
in law would mean that net emissions over the Fourth Carbon Budget period should
not exceed 1950 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. - a 50% reduction
from 1990 levels.

As required by the Climate Change Act, once the Fourth Carbon Budget has been
set in law, we will publish a report setting out the policies and proposals
required in the medium-long term to meet the budget, building on the strong
foundation provided by our existing policies. This will take the form of the
revised government carbon plan later this year, following the publication of the
interim version in March.

How we will get there

Mr Speaker, the Committee on Climate Change advised that we should aim to
meet the Budget through emissions reductions in the UK rather than relying on
carbon trading, such as under the EU Emissions Trading System or the purchase of
international credits from projects abroad. We will aim to reduce emissions
domestically as far as is practical and affordable. But we also intend to keep
our carbon trading options open - to maintain maximum flexibility, and minimise
costs in the medium-long term. Given the uncertainty of looking so far ahead,
this is a pragmatic approach.

Under the Climate Change Act, emissions reductions by the UK's industrial and
power sectors are determined by the UK's share of the EU Emissions Trading
System cap. This protects UK industrial and power sectors from exceeding EU
requirements. However if the EU ETS cap is insufficiently ambitious, this could
mean placing disproportionate strain on other sectors outside the EU ETS such as
transport.‪

To overcome this and to provide clearer signals for
businesses and investors, government will review progress towards the EU
emissions goal in early 2014. If at that point our domestic commitments place us
on a different emissions trajectory than the Emissions Trading System trajectory
agreed by the EU, we will, as appropriate, revise up our budget to align it with
the actual EU trajectory.

In line with the Coalition Agreement, Government will continue to argue for
an EU move to a 30% target for 2020, and ambitious action in the 2020s.

As part of the transition to a low carbon economy, we need to ensure that
energy intensive industries remain competitive and that we send a clear message
that the UK is open for business. Before the end of the year we will be
announcing a package of measures for energy intensive businesses whose
international competitiveness is most affected by our energy and climate change
policies. Rising electricity costs pose a key risk to these sectors which are
critical to our growth agenda. We will, therefore, take steps to reduce the
impact of government policy on the cost of electricity for these businesses,
thereby allowing them to continue to play their part in delivering our green
industrial transformation. In this way, we will ensure that that these sectors
remain internationally competitive and we send a clear message that the UK is
open for business.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, it is important to stress that the UK's existing policies already
put us on track to meet the first three carbon budgets. They also provide a
strong foundation for the fourth carbon budget, implying no additional near-term
costs. We are reforming the electricity market, making homes and businesses more
energy efficient through the Green Deal, ensuring that new homes are built to a
high energy efficiency standard, encouraging the uptake of ultra-low carbon
cars, and setting up a Green Investment Bank.

Meeting the 1950 million tonnes target we are proposing for the 2023-27
period is ambitious but achievable. By providing long term clarity for
investors, the Fourth Carbon Budget places the UK at the leading edge of the
global low-carbon industrial transformation. It will set Britain on the path to
green growth. It will establish our competitive advantage in the most rapidly
growing sectors of the world economy, generate jobs and export opportunities in
these sectors, maintain energy security and protect our economy from oil price
volatility. It is a framework not just for action on climate but for growth and
prosperity.