Environmental campaigners at the University of East Anglia have criticised the Government’s 2006 energy policy consultation document ‘Our Energy Challenge’.
In its official response, the UEA-based Community Carbon Reduction Programme (CRed) argued that the only way to make significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions is by embarking on a major drive to cut waste, reduce demand and increase focus on innovation and renewable energy.
CRed said a resource-efficient economy based on distributed and local power generation would be far cheaper than building new generating capacity, particularly nuclear power. It would also be more secure and resilient to fossil fuel price and supply shocks.
It also said that long-term energy supply must depend primarily on renewables that can provide energy at all scales down to a single building. The cost of renewable energy is falling and will continue to fall, whereas the price of fossil fuels will continue to rise. CRed argued that this is already understood by the market place, citing the fact that installed wind power capacity has grown by 28 per cent worldwide year on year from 2000 to 2004.
Dr Bruce Tofield, one of the authors of CRed’s response, said, “A perverse consequence of the Government’s energy market liberalisation was an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Low energy prices in the UK have encouraged waste of energy and created little incentive to seek greater resource efficiency. Not only does this policy prevent the UK reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, but also when fossil fuel prices rise, as they are already doing, households and businesses are ill-equipped to cope.
Co-author Marcus Armes said, “2006 is a propitious time for the UK to make a major shift in energy policy to create leadership in resource efficiency and an energy supply portfolio that brings delocalised renewable power to millions of homes. CRed has consistently observed that individuals and businesses alike are concerned about climate change and wish to do things that preserve a viable world for future generations.”
Key actions proposed by CRed include reversing pricing policies that encourage waste of energy and putting in place metering that enables users to know easily and in real time energy use and cost. It said construction should become carbon neutral and the 2012 Olympic site should be a high profile example of Britain’s low carbon leadership. It also suggested that every house and building should aim to have low energy generation installed by 2050.
CRed added that building nuclear power stations is a slow and expensive way to generate electricity. It argued that it is far cheaper to stop wasting electricity and other forms of energy and more beneficial long-term to stimulate low-energy technology across the economy.