Monday, April 03, 2006

Despair and loathing at Lost Whitehall

Britain's new Climate Change Programme launched last week is one of the sorriest documents ever launched by this environmentally bankrupt administration.

The Programme acknowledges that the UK will miss its own target to slash carbon dioxide emissions by about a fifth, and sets a revised one but offers virtually no new measures and removes existing ones.

Carbon dioxide emissions in the UK increased by 0.5% last year and we have gone into reverse gear with regards our Kyoto commitments, with an overall increase in carbon dioxide emissions of 2.9% since the Labour Government came to power in 1997.

All the green taxes (fuel duty, climate change levy, aggregates levy, landfill tax and so on) raised a peak of 3.6 per cent of national income in 1999 and 2000, and have since been falling to just 3 per cent of national income, which is even lower than the level inherited from the Tories in 1997 (Source:

It is clear that this scenario is deliberately engineered by the Government to create such a desperate seeming situation that will justify the Energy Review opting for nuclear new-build as the only way to meet climate change challenges.

If more proof were needed, there are no new transport initiatives in the document, and on 27th March speaking in Edinburgh Labour MP and Transport Minister Alistair Darling "publicly backed nuclear power, despite being advised against it by his own experts - and also dismissed renewables as being unable to meet Scotland's power needs" - Shiona Baird MSP, Green speaker on energy.

The wind industry xpressed disappointment that the Programme failed to identify the additional support needed to ensure that offshore wind projects, essential to meeting our climate and renewables targets, are delivered on time. BWEA, as part of its submission to the Climate Review, had called on Government to make additional financial support available for offshore wind projects – of which some 2,000 megawatts (MW) could be built by 2010.

Greenpeace observed that on aviation the review doesn’t contain measures to halt airport expansion and increase air passenger duty. Aviation must be included in EU Emissions trading scheme at the earliest possible opportunity, preferably 2008.

The fuel tax escalator must be unfrozen and effective road tax bands introduced that actually influence purchasing behaviour in favour of more efficient vehicles. The government should also legislate for best efficiency standards in each vehicle class to become mandatory.

The review should have ensured the tightening of building regulations to make all new buildings zero emission standard by 2010 and provide tax incentives for the installation of micro-renewables in new and existing buildings.

The review should have considered policy mechanisms that are capable of delivering where the Renewables Obligation has failed – i.e. measures to incentivise all renewable technologies, not just onshore wind and provide certainty to the market beyond 2015. The cost of grid connection for key industries such as offshore wind should also be reviewed and support provided to kick start its development.

The review should have created market certainty by tightening the national allocation of carbon credits (the amount of CO2 British industry is allowed to emit) year on year. Instead Tony Blair is seeking to increase that figure. The National Allocation Plan should be used to bring about real domestic reductions, rather than using it as a mechanism to buy credits from other countries so that UK emissions can keep on spiralling, said Greenpeace.

The Combined Heat and Power Association was among many disparate groups to despair. It railed at the failure "to introduce any new measures to incentivise new CHP schemes even though CHP is recognised as one of the most cost-effective single carbon reduction measures."

CHPA Director Phil Piddington said that "Due to market conditions largely created by the Government and the energy regulator, there are now no new major CHP schemes either planned or under development. With no specific measures for CHP announced today, this situation is unlikely to change".

He also said he couldn't understand why "the sole funding programme for the development of public sector community heating schemes - Defra's Community Energy Programme (CEP) - has been withdrawn."

The Community Energy Programme delivers decentralised energy schemes and heat networks to reduce energy bills, tackle fuel poverty, reduce carbon emissions, and support the growth of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) schemes.

"The CHP and district heating industry cannot understand why the Government would undertake such a u-turn on a programme that is successfully delivering low-carbon heat and power to communities.

"The Energy Saving Trust have identified that projects supported to date by the Programme have helped save more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon every year whilst also assisting nearly 60,000 people on low incomes. Community heating provides a powerful opportunity to help tackle the problems of fuel poverty.

"It is thus highly confusing that at a time when we are experiencing a rapid rise in the number of people falling into fuel poverty, the Government has decided to eliminate support for this Programme."

The Community Energy Programme has already provided, via both capital grants and grants for feasibility studies, low-cost heat and power solutions for nearly 200 public sector schemes, and has built up a portfolio of potential projects worth a total of £200 million.

Perhaps the government expects nuclear powered CHP to power all our homes in future. Maybe this is the solution to the nuclear waste crisis....

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