The government’s decision not to include a decarbonisation target for the power sector in the energy bill is to be challenged in the House of Lords on Monday.
Former Shell chairman Lord Oxburgh, Labour peer and shadow climate change minister Baroness Worthington and former World Bank chief economist Lord Stern will table an amendment to the bill with widespread support from peers.
“The UK needs to replace much of its electricity generation infrastructure within the next 15 years or so as old nuclear and fossil fuel power stations reach the end of their lives”, Stern said.
“Building a lot more high-carbon infrastructure would require a rapid and expensive transition after 2030 if our emissions targets are to be met, including possible large-scale scrapping within the next couple of decades of new investments made in fossil fuel power plants.”
A decarbonisation target has received backing from major investors, including Hermes, Aviva and Schroders. They argue it is needed to attract further investment in power and manufacturing companies to develop the UK’s renewable energy potential.
Under the amendment, the UK would set a decarbonisation target for 2030, before April 1 next year. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats support such a target.
An earlier decarbonisation target amendment was defeated by 23 votes in the House of Commons in June, in a rebellion by several Lib Dem and Conservative MPs.
Commenting on the proposals, Friends of the Earth’s executive director, Andy Atkins said, “The prime minister’s cynical attack on the environment in the face of energy company profiteering is adding to the uncertainty that is costing Britain jobs.
“Businesses have been waiting for two years for the go ahead to invest in clean power. Today peers can help end this farce and secure thousands of new jobs by backing a long-term clean power target.”
In May, a report from the Committee on Climate Change found that investing in low-carbon technologies throughout the 2020s could save consumers as much as £25-45 billion, rising to £100 billion with higher gas and carbon prices.
The report added that investing in gas-fired generation through the 2020s would only reap benefits if the world abandons attempts to fight climate change.