Gaps in energy policy put carbon budgets at risk

23rd September 2015


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Related tags

  • Adaptation ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Generation

Author

Richard Jeans

Recent cuts to government schemes to support renewables and improve energy efficiency could undermine the UK's legally-binding carbon budget commitments, according to Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change.

In a formal response to the series of low-carbon policy announcements by Decc, Deben, a former environment secretary in previous Conservative party governments, said the scaling back of support has "left a policy gap which urgently needs to be addressed."

In a letter to energy secretary Amber Rudd, Deben pointed out that the UK's ability to meet its carbon budgets depends on "firms and households making long-term investments" over 10-15 years, but said future direction of low-carbon policies was now unclear.

"From that perspective, the announcements potentially present problems as the cumulative impression has been of a weakening of the policy framework. This is largely because the ending of measures has not been accompanied by a clear statement about what improved measures will be put in place," he wrote. "The uncertainty created by changes to existing policies and a lack of replacement policies up to and after 2020 could well lead to stop-start investment, higher costs and a risk that targets to reduce emissions will be missed."

Deben highlighted a number of areas where energy policy is weak and which put the achievement of future carbon budgets at risk, including reduced spending under the Levy Control Framework (LCF), which he said is "vital to boost confidence in the market for low-carbon generation."

Other gaps in the UK's energy policy include the scrapping of the green deal and the zero-carbon standard for new homes. "Action in each of these areas is important to meet future carbon budgets and the 2050 target cost-effectively," wrote Deben.

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