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Strategy for climate and energy unveiled

The UK government has finally published its White Paper detailing a national strategy for delivering cuts in carbon emissions up to 2022. The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan proposes cuts in emissions of 18% on 2008 levels by 2020, and aims to produce 40% of electricity from renewables by the same date.

The other main features include:

  • All government departments allocated a carbon budget and required to produce an action plan
  • Changing the remit of the energy regulator Ofgem so that its policies help tackle climate change
  • Increased support for household energy efficiency improvements
  • Smart meters for every home by 2020
  • 'Pay as you save' schemes to fund costs of home energy measures

Power and heavy industries

All sectors of the economy are included in the strategy. The power and heavy industry, currently responsible for 35% of UK emissions, will need to make cuts of 22% on current levels, and a five-fold increase in renewable electricity generation is envisaged. Planning and regulation for new nuclear power stations is to be streamlined, the feasibility of carbon capture and storage is to be tested, and the electricity grid improved.

Households

Emissions from homes are set to fall by 29% on 2008 levels by 2020, with the emphasis on helping households via energy suppliers through the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. Investment in energy saving will be boosted by 'pay as you save' instead of upfront finance, and homes and businesses equipped with renewables will receive financial incentives to generate heat or electricity (see Feed-in tariffs coming by 2010). Levels of grants obtained through Warm Front will be increased.

Workplaces

Offices and factories are set to cut emissions by 13% by 2020, and by 2050 are expected to be using chiefly green energy. Much of this will be the outcome of a programme of investment in research and development of low carbon technologies, such as offshore wind energy and tidal energy, and low-carbon vehicles.

Transport

The transport sector is supposed to make cuts of 14% on 2008 levels, with steps to reduce CO2 emissions of new cars to an average of 95g/km by 2020 across the EU. There is support for new electric vehicle development , and pilot schemes for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in certain UK cities.

Farming and waste industries

The farming industry and waste disposal together account for 11% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, and are set to cut these by 6% by 2020. For instance, farmers will be expected to improve management of livestock and manure, and there will be a boost for anaerobic digestion of waste, instead of sending it to landfill.