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Nia Griffith MP is calling on the UK Government to include firm decarbonisation targets for 2030 in the Energy Bill which is currently going through Parliament. The MP is backing amendments to put those targets firmly in the bill.

Speaking up in a parliamentary debate yesterday Nia Griffith said

“Certainty on decarbonisation targets now would be good for the future of the planet, good for manufacturing and good for the consumer. Targets for the decarbonisation of the power sector are vital, not only for that sector, but as a contribution to decarbonisation in other sectors, such as transport, industry and buildings.

It is absolutely vital that we get those targets now. Instead the Government’s position is that no targets will be set until 2016 at the earliest, with no guarantee then as to what those targets might be. Targets are absolutely vital for industry, because we need absolute certainty to encourage investment in low or zero-carbon technologies. We want to get ahead, rather than seeing big investment in green energy components go elsewhere

I am  secretary of the all-party group on steel and metal related industry, and we see huge opportunities for the steel industry in the production of turbines for offshore wind farms and of marine current turbines. Without targets, however, we will lose those opportunities to other countries. The steel industry in this country is facing a real crisis in demand, and certainty about decarbonisation targets now would bolster investment in renewable technologies and help that manufacturing to stay in the UK.

If we delay setting decarbonisation targets, that will lead to an increased reliance on gas. We can all understand why we had gas power stations when we had North Sea gas and why we then imported gas to take over from North Sea gas, but can anybody understand why a country would wish to rely so much on imported gas now? First, importing gas contributes to greenhouse gases and the speeding-up of climate change, but secondly, following the oil crisis in the ’70s, surely we must understand the volatility of oil prices and, linked to them, gas prices. In addition, there is increased world demand and the volatility of some nations that supply gas to us. Furthermore, the versatility of gas means that when we do have it, rather than use it to generate electricity, we should be using it to pipe directly to industry or homes.

As for shale gas, it is highly controversial in a densely populated country such as our own, and encouraging more reliance on imported gas looks even more bizarre when we have huge potential here for renewables.

Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research puts paid to the myth that decarbonisation will increase fuel bills. Leaving aside all the disgraceful ways in which the big energy companies exploit the consumer as a result of weak regulation, excessive profits and now, we understand, dubious taxation practices, simply looking at the price of decarbonisation, the conclusions are that increased reliance on electricity generated from gas will cost the consumer more, and that is on conservative estimates of price rises without unpredictable events. So certainty on decarbonisation targets now would be good for the future of the planet, good for manufacturing and good for the consumer”