The nuclear industry welcomed it, as did Britain’s renewable energy indust ...

The nuclear industry welcomed it, as did Britain’s renewable energy industry and the main environmental groups, the Conservative opposition claimed that it contained their policies, but it was left to the Carbon Trust to point out the ‘Herculean’ efforts needed to turn the Government’s aspirations for ‘moving the UK onto a permanent low carbon footing’ into reality. The Government launched a whole package of new plans and strategies in July. First, the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, which details how the UK will meet the cut in emissions set out in the budget of 34% on 1990 levels by 2020.’ A 21% reduction has already been delivered, says the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), equivalent to cutting emissions entirely from four cities the size of London. Then, the new Renewable Energy Strategy, which maps out how it will deliver the UK’s target of getting 15% of all energy (electricity, heat and transport) from renewables by 2020, and the Government’s Low Carbon Transport Plan which sets out how to reduce carbon emissions from domestic transport by up to 14% over the next decade. Finally, the UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy sets out a series of active government interventions to support industries critical to tackling climate change. It puts workers and businesses in the UK at the forefront of massive global opportunity, says the Government, by targeting key industries and regions where the UK has competitive or commercial advantage, including offshore wind, marine power and carbon capture and storage. A highly ambitious set of plans. Responding to the launch of the renewable energy and low carbon industrial strategies, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust Tom Delay, voiced the concerns of many: ‘We need a six-fold increase in renewable energy generation in just eleven years. This can be achieved but will require not just a transformation in technology, but in political, economic and industrial thinking. This was the test of the strategies published today. Do they signal the government intervention needed to ensure barriers to deployment, like planning, are ripped down? Do they unleash a new wave of industrial activity to ensure the UK, like other countries, captures the real the economic benefits from this clean tech revolution? And will it set long term price signals to boost investor confidence and trigger the massive shift in financing needed?’ ‘Today’s announcements are very welcome because they significantly reduce investment risk, make some clear choices on UK technology advantage, and tackle some of the key barriers to deployment. But the true test of this new clean tech industrialismis how this new policy framework drives the action and investment needed from business.’ The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan is the most systematic response to climate change of any major developed economy, says DECC, and sets the standard for others in the run up to crucial global climate talks in Copenhagen in December. By 2020: more than 1.2mn people will be in green jobs; 7mn homes will enjoy pay-as-yousave home energy makeovers, and more than 1.5mn households will be supported to produce their own clean energy; 40% of electricity will be from low carbon sources, from renewables, nuclear and clean coal; we will be importing half the amount of gas that we otherwise would; and the average new car will emit 40% less carbon than now. The plan will not increase average energy bills by 2015, compared to now, adds the Government. By 2020, the impact of all climate change policies, both existing and new, will be to add, on average, an additional 8% - or £92 - to today’s household bills. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: ‘Renewables, nuclear and clean fossil fuels are the trinity of low carbon and the future of energy in Britain. Under our plans we will get 40% of our electricity from low carbon energy by 2020 and more in the years afterwards. Our plan will strengthen our energy security, it seeks to be fair to the most vulnerable, it seizes industrial opportunity and it rises to the moral challenge of climate change. In five months, the world must come together at Copenhagen and follow through on the commitment of world leaders last week to stop dangerous climate change. Today we have shown how Britain will play its part.’ Responding to the announcements, the Renewable Energy Association echoed the reservations voiced by the carbon Trust: ‘While delivery will be the crucial test, and concerns remain, the announcements made today undoubtedly demonstrate a step-change in political leadership that is desperately needed to ensure renewables can tackle the serious threats of UK energy security and climate change.’ Greenpeace put the point more succinctly: ‘Ed Miliband appears to be winning important battles in Whitehall. But it’s crucial that these plans now get full cross-party support and more backing from the Chancellor. The renewable energy industry is too important to become a political football and this strategy for green jobs deserves more than the current paltry sums being offered by the Treasury.’ Meanwhile, the Energy Institute welcomed publication of the various strategy documents and now prepares to play its own role in supporting their implementation. Prior to publication, the EI was asked to scope the work needed to define and respond to the skills challenge implicit in making the transition to a low carbon economy. The EI intends to work with partners across the energy and skills communities to define this work in the coming months and would welcome contact with organisations that would like to contribute to this work. (e: lkingham@energyinst.org).

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