Monday 26th September 2016                 Change text size:

Government infrastructure plan could ‘lock in’ greater fossil fuel dependency



oil rig scotland by Steven Straiton via Flickr

Analysis of the UK’s infrastructure pipeline indicates that fossil fuel projects are expected to exceed that of low-carbon energy, potentially locking in a greater dependency on fossil fuels and cutting the chances of the UK meeting carbon emission targets.

The infrastructure plan was updated by the Treasury this month and analysed by Green Alliance. The findings suggests that since a detailed pipeline was released in 2012, expected spending on fossil fuel energy infrastructure has been revised up from 8% to 61%, or £2.2 billion to £15.2 billion, of all energy infrastructure for the financial year 2014-15.

This has had an impact on the amount to be spent on low-carbon alternatives, which fell from 92% of spending to 39%. This financial year just £9.8 billion is expected to be spent on low-carbon energy, compared to the originally projected £24.9 billion.

Matthew Spencer, director at Green Alliance, said, ”The UK has led the way in taking a long term approach to decarbonisation. It now appears that a series of short term tactical decisions to promote road building, demote renewables and to offer tax breaks for oil and gas extraction have reversed what was a very encouraging picture for UK infrastructure.”

Whilst in the five years to 2020 the majority of investment is still expected to be directed to low-carbon energy projects, the share devoted to fossil fuels has risen to a third from 10%, potentially threatening the UK’s ability to meet climate change targets.

Spencer added, “The government’s infrastructure plan is likely to lock in greater fossil fuel dependency in our economy and narrow the UK’s options for halving its carbon emissions by the middle of the decade.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise, but these stark figures show you can’t focus on oil and road building and expect to deliver a cleaner, leaner economy.”

Photo: Steven Straiton via Flickr 

Further reading:

National Infrastructure Plan: government maps changes to renewable energy subsidies

Policy uncertainty risks required £375bn of infrastructure investment

Existing city infrastructure can be ‘reprogrammed’

$1.1tn of ‘high cost’ oil investments at risk

Investors asked to disclose climate change risks


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