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Manifestos: Energy and climate change

Manifestos: Energy and climate change Stephen Meese
Where do the parties stand on energy and climate change?

CONSERVATIVE

• Significant expansion in new nuclear and gas; backing for ‘good-value’ green energy; and pushing for more new investment in UK energy sources.

• Continue to support development of North Sea oil and gas and the safe development of shale gas.

• End any new public subsidy for onshore windfarms and change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications.

• Ensure that every home and business in the country has a Smart Meter by 2020, delivered as cost-effectively as possible, so consumers have instant, accurate bills and can switch to an alternative provider within one day.

• Support low-cost measures on energy efficiency, with the goal of insulating a million more homes over the next five years.

• Push for a strong global climate deal later this year to keep the goal of limiting global warming to two-degrees firmly in reach.

• Continue to support the UK Climate Change Act by cutting emissions as cost-effectively as possible and not supporting additional distorting and expensive power sector targets.

LABOUR

• Work to make Britain a world leader in low-carbon technologies over the next decade, creating a million additional green jobs. This aim will be supported by ambitious domestic carbon reduction targets, including a legal target to remove the carbon from the electricity supply by 2030, and a major drive for energy efficiency.

• Establish a robust environmental and regulatory regime for onshore unconventional oil and gas before extraction can take place. Safeguard the future of the offshore oil and gas industry by providing a long-term strategy including more certainty on tax rates and making the most of the potential for carbon storage.

• End the current uncertainty for investors with a timetable for the Green Investment Bank to be given additional powers so that it can invest in green businesses and technology. Create an Energy Security Board to plan and deliver a suitable energy mix, including renewables, nuclear, green gas, carbon capture and storage, and clean coal.

• Push for an ambitious agreement on climate change at the UNFCCC conference in Paris in December. Make the case for ambitious emissions targets for all countries, strengthened every five years on the basis of a scientific assessment of the progress towards the ‘below two-degree’ goal. Push for transparent and universal rules for measuring, verifying and reporting emissions, and for an equitable deal in which richer countries provide support to poorer nations in combating climate change. Push for an ambitious target to get to a goal of net zero global emissions in the second half of this century.

• Champion increased climate ambition from all of the world’s major economies, beginning by making sure that Europe and European leaders are doing their bit to hold warming below the internationally-agreed goal of two-degrees.

• Deliver energy efficiency upgrades to at least five million homes over ten years.

• Set out a clear long-term policy framework to unlock the investment needed for future low-carbon energy supply.

• Support the development of community energy to create a more diverse energy market.

• Deliver a stern-style review of resource security to unlock the economic opportunities from greater resource efficiency.

• Establish a new infrastructure commission to increase resource and energy efficiency, reduce emissions across the economy, prepare for the impacts of climate change and reduce flood risk.

• Set a legally-binding target to decarbonise the UK’s electricity supply by 2030.

emissions ipccGlobally averaged greenhouse gas concentrations (Image: IPCC)

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

• Stimulate a minimum of £100billion more private investment in low-carbon energy infrastructure by 2020.

• Set a legally-binding decarbonisation target range for the power sector of 50 to 100g of CO2 per kWh, which can largely be achieved by expansion of renewables, with an indicative target of 60 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

• Regulate to end the use of unabated coal in electricity generation by 2025 because of its high carbon emissions and impact on local air quality, and require any new gas stations built after 2030 to be fitted with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology. Implement a second phase of CCS projects by 2020.

• Accept that new nuclear power stations can play a role in low-carbon electricity supply provided concerns about safety, disposal of waste and cost are adequately addressed and without public subsidy for new build.

• Continue to back new entrants to the energy market, smart meters and faster switching to promote proper competition, aiming for at least 30 per cent of the household market to be supplied by competitors to the ‘Big 6’ by 2020.

• Establish a Low-Carbon Transition Fund using 50 per cent of any tax revenues from shale gas to fund energy efficiency, community energy, low-carbon innovation and renewable heat. Require that once a shale gas well is finished, it must be offered at no cost to geothermal heat developers, to enable faster expansion of this renewable technology.

• Realise the full potential of the Green Investment Bank by increasing its capitalisation, expanding its remit, allowing it to raise funds independently and enabling it to issue green bonds.

• Increase research and development and commercialisation support in four key low-carbon technologies where Britain could lead the world: tidal power, carbon capture and storage, energy storage and ultra-low emission vehicles.

• Improve the way government handles the cross-cutting challenges of delivering green growth and fighting climate change, establishing a senior Cabinet Committee to coordinate action and bringing together officials in inter-departmental units on issues like air quality and resource management.

• Prepare a national resilience plan to help the UK economy, national infrastructure and natural resources adapt to the likely impacts of a 3 to 4 degree global average temperature rise.

• The Zero Carbon Britain Act: a new legally-binding target for Zero Carbon Britain by 2050, to be monitored and audited by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), a 2030 power sector decarbonisation target of 50 to 100g per kWh, as recommended by the CCC, Emission Performance Standards for existing coal power stations, designed to ensure electricity generation from unabated coal will stop by 2025, and giving full borrowing powers to the Green Investment Bank, to further investment in low-carbon technologies.

• The Green Building Act: A Council Tax discount for significant improvements in energy efficiency in homes, ambitious targets for all social and private rented homes to reach Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2027, a statutory target to bring the homes of all fuel-poor households to Band C by 2027, a new legal framework to require regulators to facilitate the development of deep geothermal heat, large-scale heat pumps, waste industrial heat and energy storage systems, and new powers for government to introduce new energy efficiency and heat saving regulations to reduce heat and energy use.

• Continue pushing for a 50 per cent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and the greater use of EU funds to support low-carbon investments, while ensuring the UK meets its own climate commitments and plays a leadership role in efforts to combat climate change.

• Work to secure agreement on a global climate treaty at the 2015 UN Climate Conference, supported by a well-financed Green Climate Fund to assist poorer countries to tackle and adapt to climate change.

• Work with regulatory bodies and financial investors to establish a global reporting standard for fossil fuel companies on the potential impact of future restrictions on carbon emissions on their asset base.

GREEN PARTY

• Phase out fossil-fuel-based generation, including the closure of all coal-fired power stations by 2023 at the very latest. Phase out nuclear power within ten years.

• Ban all UK fracking operations – following a growing number of nations worldwide – and withdraw all relevant licences as soon as possible. Ban other new fossil fuel developments such as other unconventional fossil fuels and opencast coal.

• End fossil fuel industry tax breaks, phase out other harmful fossil fuel subsidies (domestic and international) and use the money saved to help fund other parts of the energy programme.

• Work with financial institutions, local councils and others to encourage divestment from fossil fuels and develop alternative investment in efficiency and renewables programmes.

• Support the potential deployment of carbon capture and storage to existing biomass and gas power stations only as a transitional technology.

• Develop biomass generation only where it can be done in a sustainable way giving regard to the environmental and human costs of some large-scale biomass fuel operations.

• Set in law a decarbonisation target for the power sector of 25 to 50g of CO2 per kWh by 2030.

• Expand electricity storage capacity, including using the potential storage capacity of electric vehicles, and develop the commercial and regulatory framework to make this a reality.

• Seek to cut energy demand by one-third by 2020, one-half by 2030 and two-thirds by 2050.

• Provide £4.5billion over the Parliament to support research and development into less energy-intensive industrial processes.

• Use carbon taxes (based on the present system) to fund investment in energy-efficiency measures, and prepare for the following Parliament a carbon quota scheme to regulate the level of demand for energy.

• Require grid operators to give priority access to community energy projects at an affordable cost.

• Ensure that there is a single scheme of regulation for the entire industry, whose objectives include achieving climate change targets as well as protecting consumer interests.

• Ensure that all schools, hospitals and other public buildings have solar panels by 2020. Encourage all social landlords to develop plans to install solar panels on all suitable properties, building on Kirklees Council’s pioneering £10million plan to install solar panels on 2,000 council homes over the next two years.

• Set deployment targets to bring down costs and attract investment in manufacturing and supply chains, aiming for 42 GW of offshore wind by 2020 and 60 GW by 2030, and for 25 GW of solar PV by 2020.

• Introduce smart meters and appliances.

• Provide help for people and communities to prepare for an increasingly variable climate.

• Give an extra £1billion a year to local authorities and the Environment Agency to spend on assisting communities with flood protection and on defending homes and public buildings, such as hospitals, from heat waves.

risk ipccGlobal mean temperature change vs. level of additional risk due to climate change (Image: IPCC)

UKIP

• Support a diverse energy market based on coal, nuclear, shale gas, conventional gas, oil, solar and hydro, as well as other renewables where these can be delivered at competitive prices.

• Invest in renewables, where they can deliver electricity at competitive prices. Feels that the only major renewable technology that meets this test for affordability is hydro, so will withdraw taxpayer and consumer subsidies for new wind turbines and solar photovoltaic arrays, while respecting existing contractual arrangements.

• Repeal the Climate Change Act.

• Scrap the Large Combustion Plant Directive and stop the EU’s planned Medium Combustion Plant Directive. Encourage the re-development of British power stations and industrial units providing on-site power generation.

• Set up a commission to investigate ways to assist and rejuvenate the coal industry.

• Seek to secure the survival and expansion of the indigenous coal industry in the form of deep, opencast and drift mining.

• Discontinue the Carbon Floor tax on the basis that production for coal-fired power stations is combined with carbon capture and storage.

• Halt the decline of coal power stations and seek private funding to develop new, efficient plants.

• Abolish green taxes and levies and withdraw from the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, in an effort to reduce fuel bills and enhance industrial competitiveness.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY

• Continue to support a moratorium on fracking. Continue to maximise renewables generation, in particularly offshore.

• Call on, and vote for, the UK Government to adopt Scotland’s ambitious carbon reduction targets.

• Seek to maximise support for offshore wind, including by seeking alterations to the current Contracts For Differences (CFD) regime to ensure that support is given to the offshore wind sector to not only generate renewable energy but also to boost manufacturing opportunities and ensure Scotland sees maximum investment.

• Continue to argue for changes to ensure that Scottish renewables, and Scotland’s islands, are not penalised because of their distance from markets in the south of England. 

• Press for onshore wind to continue to receive support through the lifetime of the next Parliament.

• Remove barriers that are limiting growth in the hydro sector and provide additional support for pump hydro, and Carbon Capture and Storage schemes.

• Push for a big expansion in community heating schemes and that the Renewable Heat Incentive should continue beyond 2015.

• Participate fully in international institutions, to respect their role and to work with them. This includes the UK fulfilling all its international obligations.

• Ensure the UK matches – and supports – Scotland’s ambitious commitments to carbon reduction and that both Scotland and the UK are able to play a constructive role at this year’s UN Climate Change Conference. Call on the UK government to match the approach of the Scottish Government with a dedicated Climate Justice Fund.

PLAID CYMRU

• Encourage transfer of investment from fossil fuel extraction to exploitation of sources of renewable energy.

• Focus on increasing energy generation from renewable sources, with particular emphasis on tidal and hydro souces – such as the proposed tidal lagoons – and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

• Support a moratorium on fracking and other forms of unconventional gas.

• Continue to oppose opencast mining especially when close to housing or regularly used buildings, such as hospitals and schools.

• Continue to oppose the building of nuclear power plants in new locations, and work to ensure local people and businesses benefit from existing plants.

• Oppose the use of pylons to carry energy through National Parks and Areas of National Beauty, and support the use of underground and undersea cables technology to carry electricity, where possible.

• We will introduce a not-for-dividend energy company, Ynni Cymru, that will put energy and natural resources in the hands of the people of Wales. This will ensure value for money for Welsh households and businesses.

• Introduce a Climate Change Act for Wales, adopting challenging but achievable greenhouse gas reductions targets for 2030 and 2050.

• Work to reduce the amount of energy we use in Wales, using local business to deliver the work of making houses more energy efficient and assisting high-use industries to reduce their energy consumption.

• Increase the advice and support available to local communities on how they can best benefit from energy generation projects.

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