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UK climate policies not responsible for rising energy bills say climate advisors

The UK Government has rebutted claims that rising energy bills are due to policies designed to lessen the impact of climate change and increase energy efficiency.

Although climate policies will have added £200 to household bills by 2030, more energy efficient technology is cancelling out the rises, government advisers said in a report.

The costs to consumers of boosting renewables, reducing coal power and installing measures such as insulation in homes have added around £105 to annual bills since laws on tackling climate change were passed in 2008.

The report comes as five of Britain’s ‘Big Six’ energy firms are due to sharply increase their electricity prices this year, blaming the escalating costs of government schemes to support renewable electricity generation and to help customers use less energy.

Last year “the majority of the typical household bill resulted from wholesale, transmission and distribution costs which are unrelated to the government’s low-carbon policies,” Britain’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said.

The report said just over £100 or around 9 per cent of a household’s combined gas and electricity bill, were due to government schemes to help cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions such as subsidies for renewable power generation.

However, schemes to improve energy efficiency, and help Britain reach its climate targets, saved the typical household around £290 a year, the report said.

The savings largely come though the replacement of older appliances such as fridges, freezers and boilers, with ones that run on much less energy.

Greater energy efficiency has cut household gas and electricity use by 23 per cent and 17 per cent respectively since 2008, the CCC said.

Low carbon policies are expected to add a further £85-120 a year to a typical energy bill by 2030 but the CCC said this would be more than offset by further energy efficiency improvements, which could save households an extra £150 over the same timeframe.

The British government is under pressure to bring down users’ electricity bills while also subsidising low-carbon generation to help meet its carbon emission reduction targets and plug a looming supply gap.

Greenhouse gas emissions in Britain have fallen by 38 per cent since 1990, and the country has a legally binding target to cut them by 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.

A Business and Energy Department spokesman said: “Our top priority is making sure UK families and businesses have secure, affordable energy supplies, and we’re committed to reducing carbon emissions and delivering clean growth.

“This report confirms the benefits to households of improved energy efficiency and suggests recent price rises announced by energy suppliers cannot be explained by policy costs alone.”

The findings set out by the CCC clash with claims made by the Commons Public Accounts Committee in February which said that the cost of green energy schemes has been underestimated and that typical households will have their annual bills inflated by an average of £110 by 2020. 

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