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Energy Bill Decarbonisation Vote: The Reaction

Blue & Green Tomorrow

A vote to include a 2030 decarbonisation target in the government’s energy bill has been voted down by a majority of 23 MPs in the House of Commons. Here’s the pick of the reaction.

Tim Yeo, Conservative MP and chairman of the energy and climate change select committee

“The Commons has missed an opportunity today to provide more clarity for investors on the future direction of energy policy. Unfortunately this could mean that urgently needed investment in our energy infrastructure will be slower and the risk of a capacity crisis greater.

“The continuing uncertainty that will result increases the perceived risk of investment and will therefore raise capital costs, meaning that consumers may ultimately pay more for the new power plants that need to be built.

“Perhaps more worryingly, failure to introduce a clean energy target now could make it harder for the UK to meet its long-term carbon reduction targets, forcing future governments to take more costly action to curb emissions later when the impacts of a changing climate become more acute.

“Fortunately, the House of Lords still has a chance to amend the energy bill to ensure the government takes the advice of its statutory independent climate advisors for decarbonising the electricity generation industry. I urge my colleagues in the other House to continue the fight.”

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA)

“Today’s vote is disappointing. It makes an EU-level renewables target for 2030 even more important, something the ‘greenest government ever’ is also opposing in Europe.

“Failing to decarbonise our electricity supply industry will have long term consequences both environmentally and economically.

“The government’s own advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, state that relying on gas will only save the country money in a scenario of low gas prices, whereas switching to renewables would save the country £25 to 45 billion by the 2020s.”

Simon Howard, chief executive of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF)

“Although we are of course disappointed that the amendment was defeated, we feel the relatively small government majority on this vote is an indicator of the significant level of cross-party support for a decarbonisation target.

“As the energy bill moves to the Lords, we shall continue to work with the broad alliance of investors, businesses and NGOs in order to ensure that investors get the certainty they need to make the long-term decisions that are vital for a UK economic recovery.”

Mark Kenber, CEO of the Climate Group

“Today’s debate and the vote on the energy bill’s decarbonisation target has ended in utter disappointment.

“The UK has missed the opportunity to send a signal across the globe to low-carbon industry that we are open for their business and investment.

“The UK has been an important location for investment in the green economy and we are fortunate to have world leaders in offshore wind, marine technology, low-carbon financing and engineering on our shores. The lack of a decarbonisation target means we are a step closer to losing these talented entrepreneurs, and the socio-economic benefits they bring, to more supportive nations.

“Allowing high-carbon energy generation and excluding low and no-carbon sources is a fundamental mistake, we are squandering the value we have already created and it will lock the UK into a high-carbon pathway which will make it much more expensive for us to meet our domestic and international climate change obligations.”

Matthew Spencer, director of the Green Alliance

“In the end, cautious optimism is a better approach to politics than pessimism.

“The pessimists who think climate change is too hard to tackle may have scraped a win this time, but we expect the Lords will be even more positive than MPs about the ability of a decarbonisation goal to drive investment and cost reduction.”

Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)

“I would interpret the vote as a clear signal that Britain is no longer prepared to do any unilateral target-setting. It’s a big blow to the green lobby, who were adamant that they wanted to get this through. They failed to do so.

“I think parliament today sent out a clear signal that green issues are not the top priority anymore, but economic recovery, and in particular, the prospect of a shale revolution in Britain [which] will turn the energy strategy upside down.

“What the vote clearly indicates is that the green lobby no longer has the majority, and the majority of parliament now puts economic issues on top of any environmental concerns. That’s the signal and that is how the market will read this vote.

“I think it will deter any investor from relying on any long-term policies and it’s a clear signal that Britain no longer will go it alone on renewable energy.”


Full reactions