ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS have urged Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs to back the green economy rather than a “dash for gas” in a critical Parliament vote tomorrow, June 4th.
On Tuesday, the much-delayed Energy Bill returns to Parliament. The Bill will shape the energy sector in the UK for the next 30 years and determine how the UK contributes to emission reductions on a global scale.
MPs are due to vote on an amendment to the Bill that would commit the UK a near carbon-free power sector by 2030. The amendment was introduced by MPs Tim Yeo and Barry Gardiner and backed by an alliance of organisations from across the public and private, who earlier this year called for MPs to approve the changes.
Environmentalists believe the coalition government is facing the prospect of a rebellion by Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs. Around 300 MPs from all parties have already indicated their support for the amendments. Over 200 major businesses, trade unions, charities and faith groups have also backed the inclusion of a clean power target in the Energy Bill.
A report last month by the government’s advisors at the Committee on Climate Change claimed that a strategy of investment in gas-fired generation through the 2020s would only offer significant savings “if the world abandons attempts to limit risks of dangerous climate change”. Committee chair Lord Deben said there are “significant benefits and very limited risks from investing in low-carbon technologies”.
Andy Atkins, executive director at Friends of the Earth’s claimed this week’s vote is “the last chance saloon for the Liberal Democrats to swing the vote and block [George] Osborne’s dash for gas”.
Nick Molho, head of climate and energy policy at WWF-UK, said a positive vote would “send a strong signal to investors that the renewable sector is the way forward”.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, is a keen supporter of shale gas, announcing tax breaks for shale production in this year’s budget.
Earlier this week, DECC challenged Europe to set its emissions reduction target to 50% by 2030, but said the “uncertainties at this time are too large to set hard numbers in a binding EU Renewables target” as well. The current renewables target runs to 2020; renewable energy providers and environmental NGOs are calling for longer-term targets to reassure investors.