Ed Davey announces major green u-turn - Greenpeace response

Last edited 19 March 2012 at 11:20am
16 March, 2012

Ed Davey’s Department for Energy
and Climate Change has tonight informed journalists of an environmental U-turn
that will see regulations on gas plants’ pollution stripped away. 

Commenting on this major
development, Greenpeace senior energy campaigner Joss Garman said: 

“This is the Liberal Democrats’
most craven submission yet to George Osborne’s bonfire of environmental
protections. By stripping away the simple requirement that our power stations
need to become more efficient and less polluting, Clegg and Davey are undoing
whatever good work their party has done on the environment since entering
government. Indeed, this announcement is such a fundamental betrayal of their
commitment to tackle climate change that one wonders if green-minded voters
will, in all good conscience, struggle to support them again.” 

He continued: 

“If our power stations are left
to burn the same amount of gas for decades to come then we stay hooked on a
fuel that will keep bills high, make us reliant on imports and, crucially,
crash our carbon targets. This is a major change of course from the one
followed by Chris Huhne, and is just about the worst thing Ed Davey could have
done in his first weeks in office.” 

The Emissions Performance Standard that has today been so
severely neutered was championed by the  Conservative Party in opposition,
as part of its raft of polices to address climate change.  The EPS
establishes the level of carbon which an electricity generating plant is
allowed to emit for a given unit of power.  The Government currently
intends to set the EPS for new power plants at 450 g of CO2 per kilowatt
hour.  But to comply with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate
Change, that level would need to fall to 50 g per kwh at 2030.  Instead,
the Government has announced today that any gas plant consented under the
current level of the EPS, could still be polluting at that level 30 years
later, in 2045. 

  • The Committee on Climate Change has said that “clear and radical
    long-term emission reduction objectives, such as the Committee’s proposed 80%
    by 2050 target, which will only be achievable if electricity generation is
    almost completely decarbonised by 2030.” http://www.theccc.org.uk/pdf/7980-TSO%20Book%20Chap%205.pdf 
  • According
    to the Government’s most recent estimates, published in DECC’s Updated
    Emissions Projectionsi
    in October 2011, an
    additional 4.9 gigawatts (GW) of new gas-fired electricity generation capacity is
    projected to come online by 2020. Of this, 4.1GW is projected by 2016. However,
    analysis suggests that this may be a significant under-estimate.  New gas
    projects with government consent currently amount to 16.2GW. Information from
    National Grid and New Power shows that all of these projects could be online
    before 2020. This level of unabated gas operating at 450 g kwh at 2030, let
    alone 2045, would make it impossible for the UK to meet its long-term carbon
    emission reduction goals.  http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/enough_is_enough_2012.pdf 


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