Cut out the carbon! Tory MP Tim Yeo turns up the heat on energy industry

Chair of the cross-party Energy and Climate Change Committee issues warning ahead of vote on 2030 deadline for 'decarbonised' electrity supply

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Indy Politics

The Tory MP Tim Yeo has warned that Britain's entire strategy to tackle climate change could unravel unless Parliament passes a crucial vote tomorrow to make the country's electricity supply almost entirely green by 2030.

Furthermore, by delaying vital action to tackle global warming, Britain is greatly increasing the eventual cost of dealing with it, said Mr Yeo, who has tabled an amendment to the Energy Bill currently passing through Parliament that would force suppliers to significantly "decarbonise" their electricity generation over the next 17 years.

"Decarbonising the power sector is supposed to be the cornerstone of the government's climate change strategy," said Mr Yeo, who is chair of the cross-party Energy and Climate Change Committee.

"Failure to decarbonise the power sector now could mean future governments are forced into more drastic and expensive action to constrain emissions later as the problems caused by climate destabilisation become more acute," Mr Yeo told The Independent.

He wouldn't put a figure on the likely cost of delay, although a report from the Climate Change Committee a fortnight ago said that swift and decisive action to largely decarbonise the electricity supply could save customers as much as £100bn between 2020 and 2050.

Today's vote is likely to be close, with more than 250 MPs thought to have signalled their intention to back the amendment, which needs 321 votes to be passed. It will put a spotlight on tensions within the coalition over energy policy. The Liberal Democrats want a decarbonisation target to be included in the Energy Bill and to apply from next year, while Mr Osborne, the Tory chancellor is pushing to defer any decision until 2016.

Mr Davey pushed to have the decarbonisation target included in the first draft of the Energy Bill, but was overruled by Mr Osborne. This puts him in the interesting position of having to vote against an amendment which he agrees with because he can't go against the government's official position - as laid out in the original version of the Energy Bill.

Mr Davey said: "We have listened to views and added a clause to enable us to set a decarbonisation target for the power sector in 2016. No political party had this issue in their manifesto, and this will be a world first, an issue that this Coalition government has addressed head on."

Separately, Mr Davey stepped up his campaign to address climate scepticism yesterday, aiming his fire at the media.

"Some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups who reject outright the fact that climate change is the result of human activity," he said.

"This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing. This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness," he added.

Today's vote comes in the week after a new report showed the volume of carbon emissions from producing energy rose more in the UK last year than in any other country in Europe.

The report from the EC's statistics agency found that Britain's CO2 emissions jumped by 18m tonnes, or 3.9 per cent, in 2012, as the falling price of coal price of coal prompted energy generators to switch much of their production from relatively-clean gas to dirtier coal.