The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan maps out how the UK will meet the cut in greenhouse gas emissions set out in the budget of 34 percent on 1990 levels by 2020. The government said in a statement that a 21 percent reduction has already been delivered – equivalent to cutting emissions entirely from four cities the size of London.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said, "The UK was the first country in the world to legislate for carbon budgets. It was a dramatic change in approach. This is a transition plan for Britain, a route-map to 2020, with carbon savings expected across every sector and a carbon budget assigned to every government department alongside its financial budget.
"Renewables, nuclear and clean fossil fuels are the trinity of low carbon and the future of energy in Britain. Under our plans we will get 40 percent of our electricity from low carbon energy by 2020 and more in the years afterwards," said Miliband.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband at Little Cheyne Wind Farm's inaugural event, July 13, 2009. (Photo courtesy RWE npower renewables)
Around 50 percent of the annual emissions cuts between now and 2020 will be achieved by further greening of the electricity mix. The government expects 40 percent of the electricity used in the UK in 2020 to come from low carbon sources – 30 percent from renewables; the rest from nuclear, including new power plants; and clean coal.
"We need to all-but eliminate carbon from electricity by 2050," the government said.
Today, the government pledged to spend up to £120m from low carbon investment funding to advance the UK's offshore wind industry
Up to £60m from low carbon investment funding on wave and tidal energy including up to £9.5m investment in the Wave Hub sub-sea socket off Cornwall and up to a further £10m funding to make the South West the UK's first Low Carbon Economic Area, a world centre for wave and tidal energy, building on business opportunities and skills.
The government pledged up to £10m for testing facilities at the National Renewable Energy Centre in Northumberland, up to £8m for the European Marine Energy Centre in the Orkneys, and up to £22m for a new Marine Renewables Proving Fund for testing and demonstration of wave and tidal technologies.
Up to £6m has been earmarked to explore areas of potential "hot rocks" to be used for geothermal energy. The deep geothermal resource of the South West of England alone could meet two percent of annual UK electricity demand, the government said.
A £4 million expansion of the Manufacturing Advisory Service is planned to provide more specialist advice to manufacturers on competing for low carbon opportunities, including support for suppliers for the civil nuclear industry.
A new Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is planned to combine the knowledge, practices and expertise of around 30 manufacturing companies with the capability of universities on manufacturing, processes and skills.
A campaign will be launched later this year to help small and medium businesses in the shift to low carbon.
Also announced today is a plan to spend up to £6m to start development of a smart grid, including a policy road map next spring, and also approval the UK's largest biomass power station, to be located on Teesside.
The Gunfleet offshore windfarm at Clacton on Sea, Essex, England (Photo by Gordon Barrie)
A new Office for Renewable Energy Deployment was launched today in the Department of Energy and Climate Change to speed up the growth of renewables in the UK.
"Our plan will strengthen our energy security," Miliband said, "it seeks to be fair to the most vulnerable, it seizes industrial opportunity and it rises to the moral challenge of climate change."
The UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy, published today alongside the Low Carbon Transition Plan, sets out a series of active government interventions to support industries critical to tackling climate change.
It puts workers and businesses in the UK at the forefront of massive global opportunity by targeting key industries and regions where the UK has competitive or commercial advantage, including offshore wind, marine power and carbon capture and storage.
This includes the first allocations from the £405m funding for green industry and technology announced in the Budget.
Also published today are the Renewable Energy Strategy which maps out how we will deliver the UK's target of getting 15 percent of all energy - electricity, heat and transport - from renewables by 2020, and the government's Low Carbon Transport Plan which sets out how to reduce carbon emissions from domestic transport by up to 14 percent over the next decade.
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said, "The strategies we are launching today outline the government's vision for achieving a low carbon future for the UK, reshaping the way we live and work in every element of our lives. This is a challenge that every economy is facing, and we are determined that by setting clear policy now Britain positions itself to benefit both economically and environmentally from the transition."
Secretary of State for Transport Lord Adonis, left, and Minister for Science and Innovation Lord Drayson at the Guildhall, London as they unveil a £25 million trial to put electric cars on UK roads. (Photo by David Parry/PA Wire)
"The UK is already the sixth largest economy for low carbon goods and services, globally worth £3 trillion and growing, and today the government is outlining how its support for the economy will ensure our businesses and our workforce continue to lead the way," Lord Mandelson said.
Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said, "Our strategy sets out a long-term vision for a fundamentally different transport system in our country, where carbon reduction is a central consideration in the way we do business."
"If we are to safeguard the future of transport then we must also safeguard the environment that it impacts upon," said Adonis, who in June announced a £25m trial to put electric cars on UK roads.
Around 15 percent of the annual emissions cuts between now and 2020 will be achieved making homes more efficient and supporting small scale renewable energy. The government predicts "massive cash savings," saying that in a poorly insulated home, up to £1 out of every £3 spent on heating is wasted.
Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said, "Today's announcements are a significant step towards the creation of a safe, clean and low-carbon future. Developing the UK's world class renewable energy potential and getting tough on energy waste will create new green jobs and industries, tackle fuel poverty and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel."
"Paying homes, businesses and communities for generating clean power will enable millions of people to make money from the green energy revolution. We're pleased that ministers have pledged to protect vulnerable people from unfair energy price hikes," said Atkins.
"We're delighted that the government has adopted many of the measures that Friends of the Earth has been calling for including feed-in tariffs and putting tackling climate change at the heart of energy regulator Ofgem's remit.
"But bolder measures are still required," said Atkins. "We are disappointed that the Government has only committed to a target of a 34 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2020. The Government's advisory body the Committee on Climate Change recommended that this change to a 42 per cent cut following a "global deal" in Copenhagen later this year. The Government has not accepted this recommendation, but instead has asked the Climate Change Committee to review the target post Copenhagen."
Ashok Sinha, director of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, said, "Members of our coalition will welcome this announcement. Ed Miliband must be congratulated for at last offering a step-wise plan to tackling the UK's carbon emissions.
"Whilst hugely needed, this plan is certainly not without faults, the biggest being the level of ambition," said Sinha. "In the year of the Copenhagen Climate Summit - the most important talks in history - industrialized countries like the UK must commit to reducing their emissions by at least 40 percent if there is to be a good chance of keeping global warming under the danger threshold of two degrees Celsius.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said, "If this plan becomes a reality, it will create hundreds of thousands of green jobs and make Britain a safer and more prosperous country. This will be good for the British economy and, in the long-run, save householders money as we reduce our dependence on foreign oil and gas."
"Ed Miliband appears to be winning important battles in Whitehall. But it's crucial that these plans now get full cross-party support and more backing from the Chancellor," said Sauven. "The renewable energy industry is too important to become a political football and this strategy for green jobs deserves more than the current paltry sums being offered by the Treasury."
Secretary Miliband said, "In five months, the world must come together at Copenhagen and follow through on the commitment of world leaders last week to stop dangerous climate change. Today we have shown how Britain will play its part."
For greater detail on the new Low Carbon Transition Plan, visit: http://interactive.bis.gov.uk/lowcarbon/
Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.