New UK Coalition Government Agrees Environmental Policies

13 May 2010

Clegg and Cameron

The new and highly-unusual UK coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats has unveiled their environmental policies, under the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, which backs a major programme to encourage a low-carbon, eco-friendly economy, including a smart electricity grid and the roll-out of smart meters, and importantly, a green investment bank - a proposal which is supported by all three main parties - to assist in financing this transition.

Their transport plans include the scrapping of the third runway at Heathrow Airport and the refusal of more runways at Gatwick and Stansted, as well as getting rid of the air passenger tax and replacing it with a per flight tax, which will discourage the use of half-full aeroplanes. The establishment of a high-speed rail network.

Further good news includes: the establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the emissions performance standard.

Signing the government up to reducing its carbon emissions by 10% within 12 months.

The major area of disagreement is over Nuclear Power. The Lib Dems oppose building any new nuclear power stations. Conservatives, by contrast, are committed to replacing existing nuclear power stations provided they are subject to the normal planning process for major projects (under a new national planning statement) and provided also that they receive no public subsidy. Apparently the Lib Dems would abstain on any vote brought forward by the government to facilitate the building of nuclear power stations, although it seems unlikely that a corporation would want to take on the task if there was no public subsidy forthcoming.

A tidal energy turbine

A tidal energy turbine

Chris Huhne says he intends to push forward measures to boost marine renewable energy sources such as wave, tidal and offshore wind, and that the outgoing Labour party left a “scandalous legacy” by not developing enough alternative energy during 13 years in government.

“We’ve got to get renewables up, and we’ve got to be much more energy efficient,” Huhne added. “The cheapest way to get more energy is to save energy.”

Jonathan Porritt, Founder Director of Forum for the Future, says, "The next Parliament really is the last parliament that is able to do what needs to be done now, and that is to legislate for the low-carbon economy that this country so urgently needs."




Links:

Full text of UK Coalition Government Agreement

Last Parliament to Act on Climate Change

Blog by Julian Jackson


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