Climate change is the most pressing issue that the world faces and since becoming leader of the Conservative party, David Cameron has put tackling climate change at the top of the party’s policy agenda.
The Conservative party published the interim findings of our energy review in July. Our central suggestion was the development of appropriate market mechanisms to incentivise the development of low carbon generation and energy security.
Our main proposal is the extension of existing carbon trading mechanisms to provide a graduated and long-term framework for carbon pricing out to 2050.
Generating capacity in the UK is set to decline. Approximately 30 per cent of the UK’s existing capacity is scheduled to be retired over the next 20 years, which will leave a significant energy gap. Investment in new generating capacity is urgently needed.
We believe that the role of government is not to choose between different generation technologies, but to set the right framework of incentives and regulations for the market to deliver carbon abatement in the most effective and cost effective way.
The energy sector is on the cusp of a revolution, it is clear that wind and other renewable technologies can play a significant role in our generating mix. Carbon capture could give polluting fossil fuels a new lease of life as low carbon energy sources. A new generation of nuclear power stations are more efficient and produce far less waste than older designs.
We want to encourage the most effective and cost efficient methods of carbon abatement. We want to encourage the development of renewable energy and the development of more carbon efficient generating technology such as combined heat and power, but if renewable and decentralised energy sources cannot fill the energy gap, our framework will not prevent companies investing in new nuclear build.
Prior the publication of the energy review, the prime minister was saying that decisions need to be taken now on nuclear new build or the lights would go out. Despite his rhetoric, the government’s energy review hasn’t laid out a programme for action for nuclear power or any other investment in generation. All we have seen is the announcement of yet more consultations and another white paper some point next year.
The Conservative view is clear – we need to see investment in low carbon technology, whether this is renewables, the development of carbon capture and storage, or if these technologies can’t fill the energy gap, we do not deny that nuclear could have a role to play in our energy mix.
Alan Duncan is shadow trade and industry secretary and Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton.