The government's energy legislation has come under pressure from a senior Tory who wants it to include targets to slash emissions from the power sector

Energy Bill must include power pollution targets

Government energy legislation has come under pressure from a politician who wants it to include targets to slash power emissions.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the cross-party parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee, said he will seek to amend the recently published Energy Bill to include a target to decarbonise electricity generation by 2030.

The Energy Bill does not include a 2030 figure for slashing power sector emissions, despite calls from industry, green groups and the government's climate advisers that one was needed to boost investment in low carbon technology such as wind farms and nuclear reactors.

The absence of a target was widely interpreted as a win for the Treasury and Chancellor George Osborne who has been pushing a pro-gas agenda, against the Energy and Climate Change Department headed by Lib Dem Ed Davey.

Yeo said: "Lumbering the economy with a centralised power system largely reliant on gas would be like running an office using a fax machine in the age of the iPad."

In a speech to energy investors in the City, he is warning that without a target to phase out fossil fuels, the Energy Bill may fail to deliver a world-leading and clean power system for the 21st century.

The UK faces a choice between embracing the technology of the future and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, or clinging to a power system of the past and risking being left behind as other countries push ahead with clean energy, he said.

Yeo said his amendment would introduce a target range which would require the sector to produce less than 100g of carbon dioxide per kWh of electricity.

The figure is above the 50g target recommended by the government's climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, but similar to the range for which Liberal Democrats have expressed support.

Supporters of the target say it is necessary to give investors confidence there will be support for low carbon technology in the coming decades, so they invest the billions of pounds needed for green energy to cut emissions and keep the lights on.

In its current form, the Energy Bill has no 2030 target but does have the facility to bring one in in 2016 when overall "carbon budgets" will be set for emissions reductions across the whole economy for the period around 2030.

Yeo claims the delay is "prolonging the political and regulatory uncertainty that is killing investment".

He accused this government and the previous one of being "dithering and indecisive" on energy and climate change policy.

"I think the choice facing Britain is clear. We can embrace the technology of the future, set a target to reduce our present heavy dependence on fossil fuels and upgrade our electricity system," he said.

"Or we can cling to the combustion-based technologies of the past, gamble the future on assumptions about the availability of abundant cheap gas and slow down the process of decarbonising our economy.

"Britain must look forward, or risk getting left behind."

Investing in clean energy and cutting emissions from the electricity sector is likely to be the cheapest way to tackle climate change and avoid the dangerous impacts of temperature rises such as floods and mass migration, he said.

Friends of the Earth's executive director, Andy Atkins, said: "A target for cleaning up the power sector is essential - it would give businesses the confidence to invest in clean energy, create jobs and end the nation's crippling dependence on dirty and increasingly costly fossil fuels.

"The driving force behind rocketing fuel bills is the mounting cost of wholesale gas, with experts predicting further rises in the years to come.

"If we want to create a clean, safe and affordable energy system, the government must abandon its reckless dash for gas which threatens to send the UK hurtling towards an increasingly expensive future and shatter UK targets for tackling climate change."

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