By David Bicknell
Reports over the weekend suggest that the government is expected to take steps – possibly in the Budget on March 23rd – to ‘wean’ the country off oil, amid fears that the Libyan battle for power has created uncertainty over fuel supplies, and left consumers facing a further rise in fuel prices.
The reports suggest every government department will be told this week to comply with a new national “carbon plan” aimed specifically at “getting off the oil hook”.
The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, told the Observer that the UK had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. “Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources,” he said. “The carbon plan is about ensuring that the whole of government is engaged in a joined-up effort to lead us into a low-carbon world.”
One of the options being mooted is a nationwide strategy to promote installation of infrastructure for electric cars by June. It is also expected that new deadlines will be set for building low-carbon homes, and that a firm starting date of September 2012 will be established for a new “green investment bank” to become fully operational.
The Carbon Plan will be launched this week by the Prime Minister, his deputy Nick Clegg, who is said to be driving the creation of the green investment bank, and Huhne.
The Carbon Plan is being published in draft form ahead of a final version in the autumn, and will be updated annually. It will be unveiled as the centrepiece of a week of “green announcements” by ministers. The progress made by each department will be published quarterly on the 10 Downing Street website.