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UK Government Deadlocked Over Post-2020 Climate Policy

Pilita Clark, Jim Pickard and Elizabeth Rigby, Financial Times

A simmering row between the energy secretary and chancellor over green targets erupted on Thursday as the government’s climate advisers warned against watering down efforts to tackle global warming.

Liberal Democrat Ed Davey and Conservative George Osborne face another coalition clash after the Committee on Climate Change said there was no economic or legal reason to amend a policy that Mr Osborne fears could upset his plans to boost natural gas use. Mr Davey, the energy secretary shares the committee’s view.

The government will next year review the UK’s “fourth carbon budget”, which sets a limit on greenhouse gas emissions through the 2020s, after claims that it will make British businesses less competitive than EU rivals.

But the committee, a statutory body set up under the 2008 UK Climate Change Act, said there was no need to change the budget.

“The assumptions regarding EU circumstances upon which the fourth carbon budget decision was made have not changed and therefore there is no legal or economic justification to change the budget in this respect at this time,” committee chairman, Lord Deben, wrote in a letter to Mr Davey on Thursday. […]

Mr Osborne sees the budget as a barrier to his plan for up to 40 new gas-fired power stations to be built in the next two decades.

The chancellor said in an interview at the weekend that Britain should resist a “very prescriptive path for green energy”. He said: “I don’t want us to be the only people out there in front of the rest of the world. I certainly think we shouldn’t be further ahead of our partners in Europe”.

One government aide played down the climate committee’s influence saying on Thursday.

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