Pro-green Tory and Lib Dem MPs consider rebellion over Coalition Energy Bill

 

Pro-green Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs are considering a plan to defy the Government and rebel over the Coalition’s compromise Energy Bill.

The Bill, which is published tomorrow, is expected to fall short of demands by environmentalists that it should commit the UK to cut carbon emissions produced by generating electricity to a specified level by 2030.

But in a move which will dismay Conservative ministers a cross party group of MPs led by the members of the Energy and Climate Change Committee are considering tabling an amendment to the Bill to re-introduce the commitment.

With Labour and back-bench Liberal Democrat support the move could potentially have enough backing to defeat the Government in the Commons. Even if it failed there it could be reinstated in the House of Lords where campaigners believe they have a majority in favour of the move.

Speaking to The Independent Tim Yeo, the Conservative chairman of the Energy Committee said such an amendment was a “real possibility”.

“I think it would most likely be done at report stage in the New Year but I think there could be a worthwhile debate about amending the Bill to introduce a target range for emissions from the energy sector by 2030,” he said.

Liberal Democrat sources said Government ministers would almost certainly be whipped to vote against any amendment. However they added that the 2030 target had been agreed as policy by the party’s conference in October and backbenchers might be free to support it.

“This is not something that we have discussed,” they said. “But it is no secret that we support a cap on emissions and tried to get it included in the Bill.”

Greenpeace and other environmental groups are also expected to push for such an amendment which would commit the country to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation to between 50 and 100g of carbon by kilowatt hour by 2030.

“Ministers have tried to kick the decision over a legal goal for carbon-free electricity into the long grass, but it won’t work because there is now such momentum behind the measure from businesses, investors and civil society groups determined to work with politicians from all parties to deliver it,” said Joss Garman, political director of Greenpeace.

“Unlocking billions of pounds of investment now rests on Parliament voting for what is essentially a ‘green jobs amendment’ to the bill that would offer low-carbon investors certainty through to 2030.”

The Energy Bill is also expected to include a consultation on proposals that would provide financial incentives for energy users to reduce their demand during peak periods.

Minister said a ten per cent reduction in electricity demand could produce savings of around £4 billion in 2030, which would more than compensate for the cost of making efficiency investments.

It would also cut 4.5 megatonnes of carbon, equivalent to that produced by one large city in a year, and save an amount of electricity comparable to that generated by five power stations in a year.

To do this ministers are considering plans for financial incentives to encourage uptake of energy efficient equipment in homes and businesses. They are also considering how to encourage businesses to reduce their electricity consumption at peak times of the day.

Energy suppliers may also be obliged to deliver a specific target of electricity demand reduction in the non-domestic sector to complement the Energy Company Obligation to reduce carbon emissions that is targeted at households.

“The Coalition Government is absolutely determined to help cut energy bills for consumers, reduce costs for businesses and bring down our emissions,” said Ed Davy the Energy Secretary said.

“We need to make our energy supply fit for the 21st century.”

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