UK government's 'dash for gas' condemned
GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW DASH FOR GAS
FRIENDS OF THE EARTH AND WWF REACTIONS
This morning's announcement by Energy Secretary Ed Davey and Chancellor George Osborne sets a pollution cap for new power stations until 2045. However, the level at which the cap has been set would make it impossible for the UK to reach its carbon targets unless the envisaged gas power was fitted with untried carbon capture and storage technology. By contrast, the Government's independent advisor, the Committee on Climate Change, has called for the electricity industry to be decarbonised by 2030.
Earlier this week research by Friends of the Earth revealed that energy firms, including the Big Six, are planning to build nearly double the number of gas-fired power stations the Government says the UK may need, in a move that energy experts predict will drive up household energy costs. According to Government analysis, rocketing electricity prices have been caused by the soaring price of wholesale gas.
Friends of the Earth's Executive Director, Andy Atkins said;
"This is a catastrophic mistake - a new dash for gas will keep struggling households and businesses hooked on expensive fossil fuels for decades and completely undermine UK climate change targets.
"This announcement will only benefit fat cat Big Six energy firms who are planning to build new gas-fired power stations and have made huge profits through the nation's reliance on costly and dirty fossil fuels.
"The Government's promise to build a clean economy to create new jobs and tackle soaring fuel bills is unraveling fast - cutting energy waste and investing in clean British energy is the only way to give us electricty we can all afford."
In a further development, the Guardian reports today that scores of environmental regulations are to be slashed under Government plans to be announced on Monday.
Friends of the Earth's Director of Policy and Campaigns, Craig Bennett said:
“Ministers are spending valuable time and money tinkering with vital regulations with no evidence that it won’t simply create extra confusion and costs for businesses – as well as play havoc with the environment.
“Letwin claims this bureaucratic tidying-up exercise will save £1 billion – but there’s not a shred of evidence to back up his claim.
“Ministers should be focussing on fixing our broken economy by mobilising investment for clean British industries rather than entangling themselves in red tape drudgery.”
1. Government announcement on gas-fired power stations: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn12_025/pn12_025.aspx
2. Dash for Gas plans anger campaigners - Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/17/dash-for-gas-proposals-campaigners?newsfeed=true
3. Friendfs of the Earth press release: Energy firms planning to build more gas-fired power stations: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/gas_power_station_report_14032012.html
4. Almost 40,000 people have joined Friends of the Earth's Final Demand campaign, launched in October last year, which calls for energy we can all afford and a public inquiry into the power and influence of the Big Six energy companies.
5. Guardian: Environmental regulations set to be slashed: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/16/environmental-regulations-slashed-red-tape?newsfeed=true
6. Friends of the Earth believes the environment is for everyone. We want a healthy planet and a good quality of life for all those who live on it. We inspire people to act together for a thriving environment. More than 90 per cent of our income comes from individuals so we rely on donations to continue our vital work. For further information visit www.foe.co.uk
WWF: Treasury has ‘staged a coup’ on UK energy policy
Commenting on the recent announcement by DECC on measures to ‘provide certainty’ to gas investors , Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said: "The Treasury and George Osborne appear to have staged a coup on UK energy policy, and the fact that this decision was sneaked out suggests that Ed Davey is - rightly - embarrassed by it.
“A new dash for gas will destroy the UK's leadership on climate change and will leave UK citizens at the mercy of rising and volatile fossil fuel prices. It’s staggering that the Treasury is bending over backwards to support a fuel that is to blame for 80% of the recent hike in energy bills.
“Investment certainty is needed - but for clean renewables, not dirty fossil fuels. George Osborne's blinkered approach risks leaving the UK's stuck on the starting line in the global race to a clean economy."
WWF said that a recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report  warned that a new ‘dash for gas’ would result in greenhouse gas emissions consistent with a long-term global temperature rise of over 3.5°C. The IEA said that increased use of natural gas could “muscle out” low-carbon fuels, such as renewables and said that “an expansion of gas use alone is no panacea for climate change."
1. DECC: press release: Davey sets out measures to provide certainty to gas investors (17.03.12): http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn12_025/pn12_025.aspx
2. IEA: IEA special report explores potential for ‘golden age’ of natural gas (06.06.11): http://www.iea.org/press/pressdetail.asp?PRESS_REL_ID=415