Ministers have been urged to clamp down on "massive" energy wastage rather than committing Britain to a new generation of nuclear power stations.
Energy efficiency measures could save four times the power that would be generated by a new wave of nuclear power stations, an influential think-tank close to Tony Blair said yesterday.
A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said the Government's energy review, to be published next week, should set a clear target of doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
The review is widely expected to recommend a new generation of nuclear power stations to replace Britain's ageing reactors. But researchers called on ministers to beef up their action to promote wave, wind and other renewable sources by setting a binding target to generate at least 20 per cent of electricity from renewable energy by 2020.
The IPPR report called for Britain to establish a domestic emissions trading scheme for large public and private sector organisations and rewrite standards for domestic appliances to remove less efficient goods.
Simon Retallack, head of climate research at the IPPR, said: "We have allowed ourselves to be sidetracked by the debate over nuclear power.
"The more energy efficient businesses and households can be, the less vulnerable the economy will be to the impact of rising fossil fuel prices and potential threats to the security of supply from exporter countries."
Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said: "Nuclear is a tried, tested and failed technology with higher costs than the renewable alternatives. Under Labour, energy use has been going up and up, year by year, with no sign of ending."Reuse content