Policy certainty needed to meet tough carbon targets

19th May 2011


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  • Mitigation ,
  • Management/saving

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IEMA

The proposed fourth carbon budget is good news, but cannot be met without long-term policies that support the transition to a green economy.

Environment and business groups from around the UK have come out in support of the budget announced by energy minister Chris Huhne on Tuesday (17 May), which includes a legally-binding target of a 50% reduction of emissions on 1990 levels by 2027.

While welcoming the announcement, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) argues that hefty investment in low carbon energy is needed in order to meet the 2027 target.

“This will require a robust and effective reform of the electricity market to sufficiently reduce risk for investors as well as long-term changes to the regulatory and policy framework to enable the construction sector to deliver efficient, timely solutions,” says Tom Foulkes, ICE director general.

The CBI agrees, warning that the target will not be met unless the government got its short-term policies right.

“With the green economy potentially bringing in £200 billion of investment into the UK’s energy sector alone, we need policies that will foster growth by decarbonising our energy supply, increase energy efficiency and support the competitiveness of our manufacturing base,” says Katja Hall, CBI director of policy.

“Ultimately, it is the success of measures such as the Green Investment Bank, electricity market reform and the Green Deal that will decide whether we meet ambitious emissions targets.”

Meanwhile Friends of the Earth (FoE) claims the inclusion of a progress review in 2014 to ensure the UK’s targets are in line with the rest of the EU, has left a question mark over the government’s commitment to implementing the budget.

The review appears to have been included to appease business secretary Vince Cable after he refused to support the carbon reduction targets saying they undermined the UK’s competitiveness.

“The inclusion of a get-out clause, in case Europe doesn't cut emissions fast enough, creates needless uncertainty that could dent business confidence – and all just to save face for the chancellor and business Secretary, who opposed this agreement,” says FoE executive director Andy Atkins.

“Ministers must now get on with the urgent task of fast-tracking the development of a low-carbon economy which will create new jobs and business opportunities and wean the nation off its costly addiction to fossil fuels.”

The proposed budget will now be examined by MPs and the House of Lords and, in accordance with the Climate Change Act, must be set in parliament by 30 June 2011.

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