Conservative MP Tim Yeo is heading a revolt within parliament over the lack of a decarbonisation target in the government’s energy bill.
In a speech at Bloomberg’s London offices, Yeo, who is chair of the energy and climate change select committee, said that there had been significant investment uncertainty within the energy market and the publication of the energy bill hadn’t gone far enough to ease it.
“The government’s new energy bill presents parliament with an opportunity to put an end to this uncertainty and set the UK on course to become a true world leader in clean technology”, Yeo said.
“Worryingly however, the chancellor’s new gas strategy is being interpreted by some as being at odds with this aim.
“If this interpretation gains credence it could undermine the confidence of clean energy investors and make the government’s commitments on climate change hard to fulfil.”
The energy bill, which was made public at the end of November, failed to include a target for decarbonising the energy industry by 2030 – something that the government has received criticism over.
Both Labour and the Lib Dems are behind a move to amend the bill in order for it to encompass a legally-binding carbon reduction target, but many Tories fear that a target would prevent new gas infrastructure from being developed.
“A target for cleaning up the power sector is essential – it would give businesses the confidence to invest in clean energy, create jobs and end the nation’s crippling dependence on dirty and increasingly costly fossil fuels”, said Friends of the Earth’s executive director Andy Atkins.
“The driving force behind rocketing fuel bills is the mounting cost of wholesale gas, with experts predicting further rises in the years to come.
“If we want to create a clean, safe and affordable energy system, the government must abandon its reckless dash for gas which threatens to send the UK hurtling towards an increasingly expensive future and shatter UK targets for tackling climate change.”
Yeo is expected to highlight his fears to parliament on Wednesday. In his speech to Bloomberg, he added, “Gambling on gas could be costly. History will not look kindly on those who would have us fossilise our energy system by relying too heavily on gas.
“I will not stand by and watch the wrong decisions being made on energy policy. This legislation is far too important for Britain’s future to get wrong.”
In response to Yeo’s calls, Greenpeace energy campaigner Leila Deen said, “George Osborne has tried to sideline a decarbonisation target in the bill in order to undo UK climate change commitments and clear the way for his dash for gas.
“But the chancellor has misjudged the public mood on this – hundreds of businesses, investors and civil society groups support the removal of carbon from our electricity sector because they know it would be good for the economy, good for household bills and good for the climate.
“Tim Yeo recognises the political risk of pacifying the Tory right rather than cleaning up the UK’s power sector- many other MPs will too.”
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