UK Treasury accused of undermining energy policy
Responding to the report from the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on the Draft Energy Bill today (23 July), WWF said that the Treasury appeared intent on undermining energy policy in the UK.
David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, said: “The Committee could hardly be more damning in their criticism that the Treasury is making UK energy policy unworkable. Aside from their puzzling refusal to give evidence to the Committee’s inquiry on the draft Energy Bill, the worrying question is why George Osborne’s department appears so intent on undermining the policy certainty that investors desperately need.”
Noting the Committee’s call for ‘clear specific objectives’ to be included in the Bill, including clarity about the role the electricity sector is expected to play in contributing towards the UK’s long-term decarbonisation target, David Nussbaum said, “It is vital that a specific decarbonisation target features on the face of the Bill – without clearly setting a level of ambition, the Government risks increasing uncertainty around the role of the power sector in meeting the UK’s legally binding Climate Change targets and fatally undermining investor confidence.
“The Chancellor and the Treasury are looking increasingly isolated on energy policy - their failure to agree support levels for onshore wind might appeal to a narrow political faction, but is clearly not in the national interest.”
WWF welcomed the Committee’s suggestion that the Government had fallen into the trap of focusing too much on the supply side of the energy system, while neglecting the contribution that demand-side activities, including energy efficiency and encouraging more flexible and responsive demand, could have.
David Nussbaum said: “Despite the Government’s warm words on energy efficiency the Bill in its current form does nothing to address the huge potential to reduce demand for electricity. Energy efficiency is a no-brainer both in reducing emissions and avoiding wasting money on building generation capacity that we don’t need. That ought to be attractive to the Treasury, as well as to DECC.”
Contracts for Difference
The Committee have also concluded that the proposed support mechanism for new low carbon capacity is highly problematic. In particular, the Committee said that the proposed Contracts for Difference (CfD) mechanism in its current form was unworkable and overly complex. WWF has previously expressed concern, which the Committee appears to share, that should proposals on nuclear fall foul of state aid rules the rest of the bill may be held up, seriously damaging investment in new renewable generation capacity.
David Nussbaum said: “We applaud the Committee’s recognition that there are serious flaws with the Contracts for Difference mechanism as currently proposed. It is overly complex and appears to be designed to support nuclear at the expense of renewable generators.”
Emissions Performance Standard
The Committee also highlight that the current proposal on the Emissions Performance Standard which avoid curtailing emissions from gas plants before 2045 as currently proposed may undermine our ability to meet long term carbon targets.
David Nussbaum said: “The proposal that emissions from gas plants built before 2015 will effectively never have to limit their emissions jeopardises our ability to meet UK carbon targets. The announcement on this, which was slipped out late on a Friday and which had the Chancellor’s fingerprints all over it, is another example of the Treasury’s malign influence on energy policy."
1. Energy and Climate Change Select Committee report, Draft Energy Bill: Pre-legislative Scrutiny, is published on 23 July 2012.
Friends of the Earth press release
MPs SLAM GOVT OVER ENERGY BILL - FRIENDS OF THE EARTH REACTION
Commenting on today’s (Monday 23 July 2012) report on the draft Energy Bill by a committee of MPs warning that the Government is in danger of botching its plans to boost clean energy, Friends of the Earth’s Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said:
“This report really hits the nail on the head – the Treasury’s block on reforms to the UK’s electricity system threatens to keep the nation hooked on increasingly expensive fossil fuels for decades.
"Despite soaring fuel bills, an over-reliance on imported gas and a climate crisis that’s gathering pace the Chancellor refuses to accept that our energy system is broken and wants to build more dirty gas-fired power stations.
“The Government must listen to the committee’s advice and set a target to decarbonise our electricity system by 2030, slash energy waste and unleash a revolution that allows us all to benefit from affordable and clean British energy.
There’s huge public support for renewable energy investment instead of gas – David Cameron must stand up to George Osborne and ensure the Energy Bill helps to build a cleaner future.”
Notes to editors
1. The Energy and Climate Change Committee report into the Government's draft Energy bill is published today (Monday 23 July 2012): www.parliament.uk/ecc
2. Friends of the Earth’s Clean British Energy campaign is urging the Government to listen to the public and transform our broken energy system – by developing clean and affordable power from our wind, sun and water. To find out more and back the campaign, visit www.cleanbritishenergy.co.uk.
3. For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats, championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit: www.foe.co.uk-----------------
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