By David Bicknell
The Coalition is expected to announce this week that it has agreed a far-reaching, legally binding “green deal” that will commit the UK to two decades of drastic cuts in carbon emissions. The package, reported last weekend in The Observer, will, it is claimed, place Britain at the forefront of the global battle against climate change.
Huhne is now expected to tell parliament that the government will accept the recommendations of the independent committee on climate change for a new carbon budget. The deal puts the UK ahead of any other state in terms of the legal commitments it is making in the battle to curb greenhouse gases.
The new budget puts the government on target to meet a reduction by 2050 of 80% of carbon emissions compared with 1990 levels. The committee has said that to reach this carbon emissions should be cut by 60% by 2030.
The article says ministers believe that major companies involved in developing offshore wind technology – such as Siemens, Vestas and General Electric – will now be keener to invest in Britain, knowing it is committed to a huge expansion in renewable energy. It is also hoped that the commitment to renewable energy – the committee says 40% of the UK’s power should come from wind, wave and tide sources by 2030 – will stimulate new industries.
These would include the development of tidal power plants, wave generators and carbon capture and storage technology – which would extract carbon dioxide from coal and oil plants and pump it into underground chambers. All three technologies, if developed in Britain, could be major currency earners.
The committee’s report says the new carbon deal will require that heat pumps will have had to be installed in 2.6m homes by 2025. It also says that by the same date 31% of new cars, and 14% of those on the road overall, will be electric. Experts say a total of £16bn of investment will be needed every year to meet the commitment. Some of this money will be raised through increases in electricity prices.
It is interesting to see that there is a mention of electric cars. No one, however, seems to have yet spotted the potential of electric bikes. One newly announced scheme, ComOOt, which would help London-based companies reduce their mushrooming subsidised travel bills for their commuting employees, has so far failed to make it onto the radar screen of a Transport Department blinkered by electric cars, and with a fanciful notion that the infrastructure will one day be in place to support them.