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The UK Government published its Climate Change Programme 2006 and DTI Microgener ...

The UK Government published its Climate Change Programme 2006 and DTI Microgeneration Strategy ‘Our Energy Challenge - Power from the people’ on 28 March 2006. The documents may be downloaded from the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk The Climate Change Programme sets out the policies and priorities for action in the UK and internationally, with the measures to reduce emissions targeting every sector of the economy. They include a stricter emissions cap for industry; measures to encourage the uptake of biofuels in petrol; tighter building regulations; measures to improve household efficiency; and a renewed emphasis on encouraging and enabling the general public. The Programme is expected to reduce the UK's emissions of greenhouse gases to between 23% and 25% below base year levels and reduce the UK's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to between 15% and 18% below 1990 levels by 2010. The new policies in the Programme are also expected to reduce carbon emissions by between 7mn and 12mn tonnes by 2010. This takes the government close to its domestic target of a 20% reduction by 2010. However, higher than anticipated levels of economic growth and the recent rises in global energy prices that have altered the relative prices of coal and gas are reported to have led to increased emissions, making the target ‘more challenging’. Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said: ‘This ambitious programme sets out our plans for tackling climate change at global, national and individual level. All three are essential. Climate change is a global problem that needs global solutions. But we must act now to meet our commitments. This programme contains a package of far-reaching measures that will affect all the major sectors and sources of UK emissions. But it is not the last word. There is more that government can and will do to meet the target. Further contributions could be made by the Energy Review and other policies over the coming years.’ Commenting on the Climate Change Programme 2006, the National Energy Foundation’s (www.nef.org.uk) Chief Executive, Tim Lunel, said: ‘This is the first comprehensive review of what needs to be done in the UK since 2000. Since then, there has been ever-clearer evidence of the damage from changing climate patterns, with more storms, floods in winter and drier summers. Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the main contributor to global climate change and the easiest way to reduce these harmful emissions is through improving energy efficiency and the introduction of renewable energy.’ ‘However,’ Dr Lunel continued, ‘we note that the UK is unlikely to meet the 20% target for cutting CO2 by 2010 contained in the 1997 election manifesto, and will miss it by between 3mn and 8mn tonnes of carbon a year (2%-6% of total CO2 emissions) despite a number of new targets and initiatives announced by Defra. We believe that the UK may yet meet this important target if the government were to focus on increasing the take up of microgeneration integrated into homes, offices and factories; raising standards on appliances, especially those used for entertainment and in offices; and focusing more on energy use in transport.’ Commenting on the DTI’s microgeneration strategy, which includes the provision of additional support for technologies producing electricity or heat from renewable sources, such as solar water heating (SWH), ground source heat pumps, photovoltaics and biomass, Dr Lunel said: ‘We welcome this additional strategy, but believe that the government will need to increase funding support, especially for households who wish to install tried and tested microgeneration technologies that still need support to reach a scale of production and installation to be competitive with fossil fuel alternatives. The extra £50mn announced in the Budget will be useful, but it will not enable a sea-change in the attitudes of the public towards generating their own energy from homes. A clear signal from the DTI that it will invest in the infrastructure to support decentralised energy generation would send a powerful message that the UK’s future energy strategy will be based around the efficient use of renewable energy.’

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