Lords reject decarbonisation target

11th November 2013


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A proposal to amend the Energy Bill and force the government to publish a plan in 2014 on how it would decarbonise electricity generation by 2030 has been narrowly defeated in the House of Lords.

The Lords voted 216 to 202 against the amendment proposed by Lord Oxburgh. With the coalition government not planning to consider setting a decarbonisation target until 2016, it will mean that no target will now be set before the next general election.

Decc minister Baroness Verma said: “The right time to consider this is in 2016, not 2014 as proposed by [the] amendment, as 2016 is when, in line with the requirements of the Climate Change Act, we will be undertaking extensive analysis to set the level of the fifth carbon budget in law.

“At that point we can consider a decarbonisation target within the broader context of the trajectory of our whole economy towards our 2050 target.”

Rejection of a decarbonisation target follows agreement between the government and French-owned EDF Energy to build the UK’s first new nuclear power station since 1995. Part-funded by two Chinese companies, Hinkley Point C should be operational in 2023. According to Decc, it will reduce UK carbon emissions by 9 million tonnes a year, helping to meet climate change targets.

Energy secretary Ed Davey told parliament that the power station will supply 7% of the UK’s electricity by 2025 and reduce annual CO2 emissions from energy supplies by around 5% compared with unabated gas-fired generation. “We need to decarbonise our electricity sector to meet emissions targets and … nuclear power is a key part of the government’s energy strategy,” he said.

Under the 35-year contract, the government is committed to paying £92.50 for every MWh of electricity Hinkley C generates, though this will fall to £89.50 per MWh if EDF also builds a third nuclear plant at Sizewell in Suffolk.

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing warned that the agreed “strike price” was more than twice that being considered for renewable technologies under plans to reform the electricity market.

“The guarantee under this contract until after the middle of this century sits in sharp contrast with the lack of a UK government commitment to support our offshore renewables sector and its potential beyond 2020,” said Ewing.

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