George Osborne's U-turn could add £200bn to energy bills

Chancellor’s plan to scrap climate change targets could cost every household £8,000

A A A

The average British household could eventually end up paying an extra £8,000 for its gas and electricity if George Osborne succeeds in delaying vital action to make Britain greener, the Government’s official climate change advisers warn today.

Postponing decisive action to cut carbon emissions by 10 years to 2030, through measures such as a widespread shift to renewable energy sources, will add at least £100bn to Britain’s collective household energy bills between 2030 and 2050, according to the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This works out to £4,000 per household.

The increase is because Britain would need to take even more drastic action to make up lost ground to ensure it hits its legally binding target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels.

And if fossil fuel prices soar to the top of the range of realistic forecasts, the bill to remedy the delayed switch to a low-carbon society could reach £200bn, or £8,000 per household, according to the committee’s calculations – the first time a figure has been put on the cost to the UK of postponing action.

The report rejects claims that renewable energy subsidies and other green levies are bad for households because they will accelerate increases in energy bills. The committee concedes that consumers will pay more in the short term to fund the transition to a greener economy, but will be handsomely rewarded in the long term as price increases are curbed.

Lord Debden, chairman of the CCC, said: “This report shows the clear economic benefits of acting to cut emissions through the 2020s. This provides insurance against the increased costs and risks of climate-related damage and rising energy bills that would result from an alternative approach to reduce and delay action.”

The report comes ahead of a key review in the spring of Britain’s carbon emission targets for the 2020s that David Cameron personally approved in 2011. The review was secured by Mr Osborne, who is concerned that the agreed emissions reductions might be bad for the economy and would reduce his scope to build dozens of new gas-fired power stations.

But the committee finds that watering down the carbon emissions targets would be far more costly than pressing ahead with the agreed cuts. It also argues that by fiddling with previously agreed energy targets, the Government could undermine the confidence of potential investors in energy projects.

This view is shared by a coalition of 100 parties, including Sainsbury’s, Asda, Ikea, O2, Sky, Nestlé and the consumer goods giant Unilever, which today calls on the Government to stick with its previously agreed plan to substantially reduce carbon emissions.

Speaking for the group, Lord Adair Turner, a former director-general of the CBI, said: “The majority of the business world is clear that ambitious and stable action to tackle climate change makes business sense. A stable policy environment is critical to attracting investment in the low-carbon sector.”

Lord Debden added: “The Government should confirm the [2020s carbon targets] as a matter of urgency. This would remove the current uncertainty and poor investment climate. It would provide a boost to the wide range of investors who stand ready to invest in low-carbon technologies.”

The CCC report comes at a time when consumer confidence in the so-called “Big Six” energy companies is low, following a series of inflation-busting price hikes that have greatly increased their profits. An estimated 10,000 people died in the UK last winter in connection with cold homes.

In the week after the Chancellor sought to knock £50 off household energy bills by watered down green levies, it emerged that only two of the Big Six have so far passed on the saving to their customers. They are British Gas and SSE – formerly known as Scottish & Southern Energy. MoneySuperMarket, the price comparison website, yesterday said some of the firms were “getting away with green murder”.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “The UK takes its obligations under the Climate Change Act to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 extremely seriously. The Committee’s advice has an important role in the 4th Carbon Budget review and we agree with them that it is important to make a final decision as quickly as possible. We will consider the CCC’s advice carefully as part of our work on the review, which will be published in the new year.”

News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
peopleBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game