Green energy targets cannot be cut, government adviser says

December 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

The CCC said: “There has been no change in the circumstances upon which the
fourth carbon budget was originally set in 2011 that would justify a
lowering of ambition. Therefore the budget should not and cannot be changed.”

The committee says that consumers will save £100 billion if action is taken in
the 2020s to cut carbon emissions instead of delaying to the following
decade. This is based on the Government’s assumptions that gas prices will
stay at current levels and that taxes on carbon emissions will rise steeply.

But it admits that if the gas price were to drop, and if international taxes
on carbon did not rise, there would be “significant costs” in acting sooner.

It declines to quantify those costs, with Lord Deben, the committee’s
chairman, saying this scenario was “almost impossible to imagine”. If it
were to happen, the Government could then legally abandon the targets, he
added.

The Government agreed to review the carbon budget in 2014. In a gas strategy
last year it said that “gas could play a more extensive role” should the
budget be changed so a greater amount of emissions be permitted.

But David Kennedy, the CCC chief executive, said: “We do not think they could
find a reason to reject our advice within the terms of the Act. We cannot
find anything that would allow you to change the budget.”

He said those who thought the targets should be watered down were acting on a
“gut feeling” and had not presented any evidence-based case for doing so.

It would be up to campaigners to try to mount a judicial review to any
decision to revise the targets, the CCC says.

The CCC says that the Government was already committed to green targets for
2020 which would add £100 to bills, and that the only issue of debate was
the carbon targets for the next decade, which would add a further £20.

It also says that sticking to the fourth carbon budget will not push more
households into fuel poverty and that there is “no evidence” that Britain is
losing business because of low-carbon policies.

Industries that use a lot of energy have been handed exemptions from green
levies and the CCC recommends these be extended to 2020.

Friends of the Earth welcomed the report, saying: “Our over-reliance on
increasingly costly fossil fuels has sent bills soaring and heightened the
risk of extreme weather battering Britain.”

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said industry would be “deeply
concerned” at the CCC’s advice.

It added: “With other EU members showing little appetite to match our
ambitions, this will continue to push electricity prices above our
competitors and risks pushing investment abroad.”

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