In Parliament >> Energy Bill lacks CO2 target

8th March 2013

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  • Energy ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Conventional ,
  • Generation



Alan Whitehead MP argues that the Energy Bill must include a decarbonisation target

It’s the half way stage in the great Energy Bill marathon in parliament. The committee stage is done, but there will be a chance to make final amendments at the report stage, and then it is off to the Lords for the whole process to be repeated. So where does the Bill now stand?

After the draft received a mauling from the energy and climate change select committee, the government introduced a number of changes, including an amendment that will allow the secretary of state to set an unspecified decarbonisation target after 2016, and the creation of the fifth carbon budget by the committee on climate change (CCC).

I argued at the committee stage that this change was too vague: the secretary of state could, after 2016 decide to do nothing, or set a target that did not relate to the needs of low-carbon energy generation. I then tabled, unsuccessfully, an amendment that placed an industry-wide emissions cap of 50g CO2 per kWh of electricity generated by 2030.

So is that the end of the matter? I’m not sure it is, since there are moves afoot to put forward a cross-party amendment to be discussed later in the Bill’s passage that would require the secretary of state to put an early target range into the Bill.

The need for a decarbonisation target in the Bill is real, and not just a theoretical aspiration. It has received support from across the business and investment community. In essence, it is about framing all the contents of the Energy Act, as it will become, in terms of the direction of travel of energy policy, so that investors can be clear about the future landscape.

Events over the next few months will determine whether the Bill will provide the means to drive the low-carbon economy forward effectively or will instead provide a useful, but far less certain outline “framework” for longer-term commitments. Watch this space.


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