Climate change white paper sets the road to 2020

By staff

Ed Miliband has unveiled the government’s plan to cut carbon emissions by a third by 2020.

The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan white paper set out a range of proposals designed to secure the promised cuts, with three different phases of reduction between 2008-12, 2013-17 and 2018-22.

“Climate change is the moral issue of our time,” the energy and climate change secretary told the Commons.

“Today we show how Britain will play its part. This is a transition plan for Britain.”

Each government department will be set individual carbon reduction targets.

Mr Miliband’s department intends to get low carbon buses onto the roads in the next two years, and to provide new funding for electric cars.

But he stressed that the most important reductions in carbon emissions would come through reductions in the generation and use of energy.

Families will be given loans to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, which can be repaid through savings on fuel bills.

Those generating their own clean energy are also in line for reward in the form of cash-back schemes.

Thirty per cent of electricity will come from wind, marine and other renewables.

A national policy statement on new nuclear power stations – the most controversial part of the proposals – will be published in the autumn, Mr Miliband said.

There will also be proposals for a full carbon capture storage project, with legislation in the next session.

Mr Miliband insisted “clean coal has an essential role to play” in government efforts to reduce emissions.

The target he has set commits the government to obtaining 40 per cent of electricity from low carbon energy by 2020. Mr Miliband expected the number of jobs to be created by the scheme to hit 400,000.

There will be more funding for smart grids and smart meters will be provided to millions of homes by 2020.

There were also proposals for communities and individuals to generate their own renewable power and sell it back to the grid.

Mr Miliband took an uncertain line on the capacity of the market to reduce emissions. While admitting that meters demonstrate how competition has failed in some respects, he nevertheless plans to give Ofgem more powers to combat anti-competitive practise.

His opposite number, Greg Clark, accused the government of fiddling for the last decade while other countries had made headway.

“Over 12 years we have had 15 energy ministers, but no energy policy,” he replied in the Commons.

“Does he recognise that while other countries have spent the last decade diversifying their supplies of energy, Britain has become even more dependent on imported fossil fuels – threatening our energy security, our economic competitiveness, and our climate change objectives?”

Writing in the Observer newspaper on Sunday, Gordon Brown said creating a new low-carbon economy would provide the route out of recession.

“We must seize the opportunity for a comprehensive transition to a greener, cleaner future for Britain – one which is fairer, stronger and more prosperous for all,” he wrote.