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Government sets out energy policy to reduce emissions by 80%

Energy secretary Chris Huhne yesterday set out 32 actions to reduce carbon emissions by 80% in 2050 in the first ever Annual Energy Statement to Parliament.

The UK’s energy and climate change policy has set out plans to achieve a low carbon energy system by 2050. The government published a 2050 analysis to meet a target of an 80% cut in emissions which it believes is ambitious but achievable, and compatible with maintaining security of energy supplies

“Our future energy system is too important to rely on crystal ball gazing,” said Huhne. “The era of cheap, abundant energy is over. We must find smart ways of making energy go further, and value it for the costly resource it is, not take it for granted. And even as we reduce overall demand for energy, we may need to meet a near doubling in demand for electricity, as we shift industry, transport and heating onto the grid.

“The challenge is ambitious but achievable. We’re already on track to cut the UK’s emissions by 34% by 2020, and will do more if we can win the case for greater ambition across the whole EU.

Chris Huhne’s statement in the Commons yesterday splits the 32 actions in four key areas:

  • Saving energy through the Green Deal and supporting vulnerable consumers
  • Delivering secure energy on the way to a low carbon energy future
  • Managing our energy legacy responsibly and cost-effectively
  • Driving ambitious action on climate change at home and abroad

It also committed to conducting wide-ranging consultation on electricity market reform in the autumn, with a White Paper to follow next spring.

The government also launched a review of Ofgem’s role as the independent regulator of the energy markets.

Business lobby group the CBI said that the government had recognised the scale of the challenge.

“Now businesses need quick decisions on electricity market reform, and certainty that the planning regime will not be changed in a way that deters investment,” said CBI director of business environment Neil Bentley. “These will be crucial to securing the £150bn of private sector investment needed to turn the government’s strategy into reality. Cost effectiveness must underpin all policy decisions to ensure we maintain industrial competitiveness.”

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