Leading green Conservative Tim Yeo proposes amendment that would force the government to set a target to decarbonise the UK’s electricity
Prominent green Tory Tim Yeo has tabled an amendment to the government’s energy reform plans that would boost investment in green construction projects.
The amendment to the Energy Bill, brought by Yeo, the Conservative chair of the Commons energy and climate change committee, would force the government to set a target for the extent to which it would decarbonise grid electricity by 2030.
The government recently delayed any decision on a decarbonisation target until 2016, but under the amendment it would need to set a target before April 2014. The amendment would also force the government to use the predictions of its own climate watchdog the Committee on Climate Change as the basis for the target.
The amendment to the Energy Bill, which is also supported by Barry Gardiner, a leading green Labour MP, is in line with Labour policy and therefore has a chance of being passed if Yeo can convince enough of his coalition colleagues to back it.
Doug Parr, head of policy at campaign group Greenpeace, said it would likely stimulate investment in a whole raft of green projects. “Having a decarbonisation target in the 2030s means people who are in the low carbon sector would know that there’s a market for low carbon,” he said.
Parr said that there was a market not just for power stations but for factories and associated buildings to make wind turbines and other high-tech equipment which could be tapped if there was a strong domestic market for their use.
He dismissed the idea that a decarbonisation target might lead to a drop off in new gas plants, pointing to technology firm Siemens, which has strong businesses in both gas and renewable technology and is known to be supportive of a decarbonisation target for 2030.
Chris Whitehead, group head of sustainability at contractor Balfour Beatty, said it was good to “set a trajectory” for low carbon generation in the UK. But he said industry also needed the support of a surrounding policy framework and monitoring to make sure targets like these were met.
“You cannot just set a target and expect industry to respond that has been shown not to work,” he added.