Government unveils green future for energy

The government has scuppered the nuclear power lobby with the publication of a White Paper outlining its intent to make the UK a world leader in green energy.

The UK will lead the world in developing cleaner, greener energy under proposals unveiled by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt yesterday.

A strategy to reduce harmful carbon emissions over the next 50 years with major expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency is said to be at the heart of the Government’s White Paper entitled Our Energy Future – Creating a Low Carbon Economy.

The White Paper sets out four goals for the Government’s energyPolicy, which are the cutting emissions of carbon dioxide by 60% by 2050; maintaining the reliability of energy supplies; encouraging competitive energy markets in the UK and beyond; and ensuring that every home is adequately and affordably heated.

Ms Hewitt also announced a range of practical measures including a plan to double the share of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 from the existing 2010 target of 10%; and an additional £60million investment in renewable projects.

Other measures include a new carbon trading system that will give energy suppliers and consumers incentives to switch to cleaner energy; supporting cleaner coal technology and establishing an investment aid scheme to help viable pits develop new reserves; and working with the EU and car manufacturers to improve vehicle efficiency.

The White Paper does not contain proposals for building new nuclear power stations, but does not rule out the possibility that at some point in the future new nuclear build might be necessary if we are to meet our carbon targets.

Any further decision to proceed with the building of new nuclear power stations would only follow a full public consultation.

Friends of the Earth welcomed plans to work towards cutting climate changing emissions of carbon dioxide by 60 per cent by 2050. But Friends of the Earth also warned that the government’s plans must be accompanied by clear timetables, targets and investment if they are to be achieved.

‘The White Paper is a crucial landmark in moving the UK towards a more sustainable, low carbon economy. It appears that at long last the Government accepts that the nuclear dream is over, and that a huge investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency is needed to secure our energy needs and combat climate change,’ said Friends of the Earth’s Energy Campaigner Bryony Worthington.

‘It is disappointing that the Government has dropped a target for producing a fifth of our energy from renewables by 2020. It must now produce the bold policies, resources and commitment necessary to ensure that the vision of a genuinely sustainable, low carbon, energy policy can be realised.’

The White Paper is available (summary and full versions) on theDTI website at <A HREF=’http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/whitepaper/index.shtml’>White paper</A>