Demand reduction should take centre stage in Energy Bill

The government has today published its long awaited Energy Bill, detailing plans to reform the power sector.

Responding to the Bill, Green MP Caroline Lucas said:

“While I welcome the Secretary of State’s recognition of the huge opportunities offered by greater energy efficiency, I am disappointed that measures to help householders manage their bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring people out of fuel poverty are simply being tacked on to the government’s energy strategy – rather than taking centre stage.

“We have heard positive statements about incentivising businesses and industry to invest in energy saving, but unless this is much more of a priority in the Energy Bill, with concrete policies to match the Energy Secretary’s rhetoric, the potential identified by DECC to reduce electricity demand by 40% by 2030 will not be realised.

“The government’s weak Green Deal policy looks unlikely to deliver either for bill payers or the energy efficiency industry.

“The Chancellor should listen to calls from MPs to use the revenue from carbon taxes and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to invest in a nationwide housing retrofit to ensure all of our homes need far less energy to keep warm.”

Lucas continued:

“The Bill also proposes £7.6bn of new funding for low carbon generation, bringing welcome green jobs.

However the government needs to do far more to offer long term certainty for the sector beyond 2020 by committing to a zero carbon electricity supply by 2030.

“In 2006, David Cameron said that ‘we need targets as well as technology’ to make the shift to a greener economy, yet he has allowed his Chancellor to completely disregard the Committee on Climate Change, his coalition partners, the renewables industry, NGOs and a raft of the UK’s largest businesses by scrapping the 2030 decarbonisation target.

“Equally deplorable is the goverment’s refusal to support binding energy efficiency and renewables targets for 2030 that would deliver the longer term certainty that green investors are crying out for.

“Amendments are also needed to this Bill to rule out a new dash for gas.

“Gas is the real threat to our energy bills, not green policies – it has been repeatedly shown that the UK’s ongoing dependence on expensive and polluting imported gas is what is forcing up energy bills.

“Yet Ministers have failed to tackle this problem. This government’s apparent determination to keep the UK hooked on gas even in the face of the UN’s latest warnings on climate change also raises serious questions about who Ministers are listening to over energy policy and the influence of pro-gas voices like Lord Howell.”

Commenting on the confirmation of plans to subsidise new nuclear power through Electricity Market Reform, the Green MP said:

“Coalition ministers have stated again and again that their pledge to spend no public money on new nuclear will hold, yet it’s obvious that EMR has been designed to allow subsidy via the backdoor.

“Ministers must now come clean about their intention to subsidise the nuclear industry after 2020 through the ‘Contracts for Difference’ mechanism in the Energy Bill.

“We also need to know how much of the new funding for low carbon generation will be used to support clean home grown renewables rather than CCS or nuclear.

“At an estimated cost of up to £7bn per power station according to EDF, nuclear is eye-wateringly expensive and there’s a real risk that householders will be saddled with the ever increasing costs of a new generation of inflexible expensive nuclear power funding when this support could be redirected to a range of renewable energy technologies instead.

The government must urgently ditch this obsession with nuclear power, which threatens to add a huge burden to household bills for decades to come.

“Demand reduction should take centre stage in this new Bill, rather than being tacked on as a consultation exercise.  MPs must also fight for an ambitious decarbonisation target, rule out a new dash for gas, and deliver support for smaller generators to break up the Big 6.”

“This Bill, coupled with next week’s autumn statement, is an opportunity to reduce UK dependency on fossil fuels and drive the transition to renewable home grown energy system – it’s critical that this opportunity is not wasted.”


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