The UK government publishes a Carbon Action Plan and invites the UK public to give their views on its content

March 10th, 2011 by HM Government Department of Energy and Climate Change

(click front cover to go to download page)

A cross-UK Government action plan on climate change backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was launched on 8 March 2011 setting strict actions and deadlines for Whitehall.

The Carbon Plan sets out what has to happen and by when if the UK Government is to live up to its green ambitions, meet tough domestic carbon targets and encourage greater action internationally. It is focused on the jobs and economic opportunities of the low carbon economy and on policies that will help insulate Britain from future energy price shocks.

The Carbon Plan is published in draft form today with the UK Government inviting the public and organisations to give their views on the contents.  A final version will be published in the Autumn and then updated annually.

In a foreword to the document, the UK Prime Minister, UK Deputy Prime Minister and UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne write “this Carbon Plan sets out a vision of a changed Britain, powered by cleaner energy used more efficiently in our homes and businesses, with more secure energy supplies and more stable energy prices, and benefiting from the jobs and growth that a low carbon economy will bring.

But it does more than that. It shows exactly how we will deliver that vision and play our part in the global effort to tackle climate change and build a green economy through specific, practical action across government, month by month and department by department.’’

The draft Plan highlights three key changes that will be required across the UK economy, including:

  • in the way electricity is generated, where a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels and towards low carbon alternatives is needed – including renewable energy, new nuclear power and fossil fuel power stations fitted with carbon capture and storage
  • in the way homes and businesses are heated, where a step change is needed in how well homes are insulated and away from gas boilers to low carbon alternatives, such as heat pumps
  • in the way people travel. This means more use of public transport and substituting the need for some journeys, but the greatest change will be in road transport – reducing emissions from petrol and diesel engines and moving towards alternative technologies such as electric vehicles.

Internationally, the plan sets out how the UK will work within the European Union and with other countries to promote ambitious action on climate change; support developing countries to limit emissions and adapt to climate change; and seek further progress towards a global climate change agreement.

The document details a range of deadlines and actions that a number of Government departments will have to meet. These include:

  • HM Treasury legislating to create a floor in the carbon price by April 2011
  • DECC to award the contract for the first UK Carbon Capture and Storage demonstration by end of this year and identify further demonstration projects by May 2012
  • The Department for Business to get the Green Investment Bank operational by September 2012 with the first annual data released on the funds in and size of investments made by the Bank by May 2013
  • By June 2011, the UK Department of Transport to develop a nationwide strategy to promote the installation of electric vehicle infrastructure
  • DECC to lead in reducing central government’s emissions by 10% in twelve months with the deadline of May 2011
  • By June 2012 Defra to launch a pilot project to develop and trial methods for delivering integrated environmental advice for farmers, including on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The entire public sector is working together to deliver the low carbon economy and local government in particular has a vital role to play in harnessing the enthusiasm that exists at the local level for tackling climate change.

To enable local councils the opportunity to take the lead in reducing emissions Chris Huhne will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Vice-Chair of the Local Government Association, Richard Kemp this week, which will set out how DECC and the Local Government Group will work together to help and encourage all councils to take firm action to:

  • reduce the carbon emissions from their own estate and operations
  • reduce carbon emissions from homes, businesses and transport infrastructure, creating more, appropriate renewable energy generation, using council influence and powers; and
  • participate in national carbon reduction initiatives at the local level, particularly the roll out of the Green Deal, smart metering and renewable energy deployment.

For more detailed information about the path the UK will take to reduce carbon emissions and meet the obligations under the Climate Change Act visit the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan web page.

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