Energy bills ‘too low’ say Royal Society

By Liz Stephens

If the UK is to have any chance of developing new green technologies, consumers will need to pay more for energy, a group of leading scientists and engineers has said.

The Royal Society study, which was published today, also calls for the government to prioritise research into alternative energies, calling current climate change policy “half-hearted”.

“We have adapted to an energy price which is unrealistically low if we’re going to try and preserve the environment,” said John Shepherd, a climate scientist at Southampton University and co-author of the report.

“We’re spending less than 1 per cent on probably the biggest problem we’ve faced in many decades,” he said.

However, higher energy costs will be a hard sell to the public.

The report suggests part of the revenue could be generated by a carbon tax that would take the place of VAT.

Although the report calls the creation of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) a good move, Shepherd said: “We’ve had a lot of good talk but we still have remarkably little in the way of action.”

Ed Miliband, energy and climate change secretary, said that a white paper due next month will lay out how Britain will source its energy for the coming decades.

“This white paper will be the first time we’ve set out our vision of an energy mix in the context of carbon budgets and climate change targets.

“It’s a transition plan, a once in a generation statement of how the UK will make the historic and permanent move to a low-carbon economy with emissions cut by at least 80 per cent in the middle of the century,” he said.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat MP for Winchester, Mark Oaten has voiced his concerns today for people in rural environments who are already subject to higher tariffs and huge increases because they are “off mains”.

Off-mains customers are not included in existing fuel poverty schemes.