A DIVERSE group of organisations has called on MPs to support a campaign to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 2030.
Businesses, environmental bodies, faith groups and trade unions want politicians to back an amendment to legislation reforming the electricity sector, which would significantly cut average emissions from power generation.
The Energy Bill amendment proposed by Conservative MP Tim Yeo and Labour MP Barry Gardiner would send an important signal to investors to put money into low-carbon infrastructure and supply chains, campaigners say.
The UK government has been accused of sending out mixed signals, with Chancellor George Osborne expressing support for a new “dash for gas” instead of a drive toward renewables and other low-carbon technology in the 2020s.
It was also the subject of a bitter coalition battle late last year when Mr Osborne effectively overruled Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who had backed the 2030 target.
Mr Davey dropped the demand but his party faces a possible rebellion this week, with about a dozen Lib Dem MPs expected to join Labour, the SNP and Plaid Cymru to vote for the amendment by Mr Yeo, the chairman of the influential energy select committee.
The government’s own climate advisers have backed the target to cut emissions by 2030 and said that investing in low-carbon power such as wind farms and nuclear reactors in the 2020s could save consumers billions of pounds compared to relying on gas. If the vote is defeated in the Commons, it would be 2016 before Westminster sets a decarbonisation target, by which time the UK will have lost ground to rivals such as Germany and India, critics said.
A total of 55 groups called on MPs to back the amendment which would “commit the UK to have a near carbon-free power sector by 2030”, and to push forward with the Energy Bill, which aims to stimulate £110 billion in investment to cut emissions from electricity generation and keep the lights on.
In a statement they say: “We … are united in the belief that the Energy Bill represents a major opportunity to put the UK firmly on track to becoming a world leading low-carbon economy, to boost employment and to show genuine leadership in the fight against dangerous climate change.”
The Scottish Government has set its own 2030 targets to decarbonise electricity by 2030, in addition to targets such as producing the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020.
Mike Weir MP, the SNP’s Westminster energy spokesman, said: “This key vote is getting a bit close for comfort for the coalition government as backbenchers realise the importance of setting an early UK decarbonisation target.”