Think tank calls or consistency on carbon policy

Wednesday 06th Jun 2012 by theWeather Club

Ministers must send clear signals that they believe in new forms of green technology if they want companies to invest in them, a leading independent think tank has said. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has accused the government of inconsistency in the messages it is sending out about its commitment to cutting carbon emissions. It has concluded that this inconsistency has made some in the energy sector nervous about commitment to the kind of investment needed to meet carbon reduction targets.

The government said its proposed Energy Bill would provide ‘certainty’ for investors in the electricity market, with Energy Secretary Ed Davey saying last month climate change goals could be met by banishing coal and gas in the 2030s. But in launching the draft Energy Bill, the government said it wanted to retain flexibility on the target date. This represents a shift from the previous position where the government had indicated it could make energy clean within two decades. 

IPPR research fellow Reg Plant said: "An ambitious decarbonisation policy offers a route to long-term sustainable economic growth, and productive British businesses. But businesses need to know the government will provide consistent support for their investments. And at the moment ministers blow hot and cold on their commitment to a green future." The IPPR said there were ‘mixed signals’ because the government initially promised ambitious targets before seeming to waver about their effect on the economy.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: "The government is proposing to reform the electricity market and give certainty to investors with the Energy Bill and revolutionise the energy efficiency of millions of homes and business across the UK through the Green Deal." They continued, "This approach will deliver the best deal for Britain and for consumers, cutting energy waste and helping get us off the hook of relying on imported oil and gas by creating a greener, cleaner and ultimately cheaper mix of electricity sources right here in the UK." 

The IPPR report comes amid continued lobbying from environmental campaigners to cut further subsidies to onshore wind farms, arguing that their spread across the UK has been a blight on the countryside. In response Mr Davey has already indicated the government wants to cut wind farm subsidies by about 10%. However Prime Minister David Cameron has said the growth of renewable energy is vital for the British economy, and has promised that he will lead the ‘greenest government ever’.