The BBC today said “Chris Huhne has committed the UK to halving carbon emissions by 2025, from 1990 levels, and changing the way that the country produces energy.” This appears to be very good news, even if it doesn’t go as far as some of us would like it still is the strongest legal limit set by any government in the world. However there are many potential pitfalls, such as the fact that in 2014 the commitment will be subject to review, the inclusion of carbon off-setting, and the political isolation of Chris Huhne in the light of his alleged passing responsibility for his speeding to his ex-wife.
David Cameron claims this to be the ‘greenest government ever’. It’s a funny coalition. Many senior figures in both parties, it seems to me, are not at all green at heart, such as Nick Clegg and George Osborne, whereas I think Chris Huhne and perhaps also David Cameron are, or at least want to appear so. So far any reduction in carbon emissions in the UK appears mainly to be due to the recession and outsourcing production to China.
Perhaps the best way to judge this government’s claim to be the greenest ever will be to see how far they help in the promotion of major changes in our energy use and infrastructure. Photovoltaic panel installations grew by an astonishing 1500% in the UK in 2010, admittedly from a miniscule base and due to feed-in tariffs brought in by Labour. The offshore wind industry seems to be gathering pace. But there is so much more that needs to done and which will create many jobs and future low carbon prosperity.
We do live in fast changing world. Even the International Energy Agency (IEA) is now coming out in favour of some pretty radical green stuff like promoting the combination of renewable energy with Combined Heat and Power and district heating, as I’ve written about in several blogs about best practice in Denmark and Austria.
IEA press release: http://www.newenergyworldnetwork.com/alternative-energy-analysis/iea-highlights-role-of-chp-in-delivering-new-energy-future.html
BBC announcement: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13417997
Geoffrey Lean on Huhne: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/geoffreylean/100088349/david-camerons-green-agenda-hangs-on-chris-huhnes-fate/