Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations?

As The Guardian reveals on its front page today, the coalition may be about to U-turn on David Cameron’s flagship green policy of introducing tough new emissions performance standards to stop the dirtiest coal-fired power stations, like Kingsnorth, from being built.

Under intense pressure from big German coal companies like E.ON and the cabal of civil servants who support them, it seems that Liberal Democrat energy and climate change secretary, Chris Huhne, may ‘put on hold’ his government’s promise to introduce an emission performance standard in the new energy bill later this year.

This could, in effect, give the green light for the first new dirty coal stations in Britain for 30 years and reignite the fierce battle about Kingsnorth.

Along with opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, introduction of these emissions standards for power plant was a flagship policy of both the Tories and Lib Dems. Were Chris Huhne to preside over a U-turn on this, it may well decimate perceptions of the Lib Dems as the greenest of the main three parties, infuriate the Lib Dem membership, and represent a major policy reversal.

The introduction of such a standard has been personally championed by David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg and it also features in the coalition agreement (page 16). When Ed Miliband’s Energy Bill came to Parliament for a vote, as Left Foot Forward highlighted at the time, it was Conservative and Lib Dems who worked together to amend the bill to enable an emissions performance standard. This followed an iconic campaign by groups like Oxfam, Greenpeace and WWF and after MPs inboxes were flooded with emails from members of these groups as well as 38 degrees.

It was David Cameron who first proposed the emissions performance standard, highlighting how such a measure has worked successfully in California to reduce emissions and incentivise clean energy investment.

As The Guardian reminds us today, on June 16th 2006, David Cameron said:

“I can announce today that a Conservative Government will follow the Californian model, and implement an Emissions Performance Standard. This would mean the carbon emissions rate of all electricity generated in our country cannot be any higher than that generated in a modern gas plant.

“Such a standard would mean that a new generation of unabated coal power plants could not be built in this country.”

On July 10th 2008, George Osborne again reiterated the pledge:

“A Conservative Government will follow the Californian model, and implement an Emissions Performance Standard. This would mean the carbon emissions rate of all new electricity generation in our country cannot be any higher than that generated in a modern gas plant.

“Such a standard would mean that a new generation of unabated coal power plants could not be built in this country.”

It is not clear why the government have chosen to put this policy ‘on hold’, but most likely is that civil servants who are close to the coal industry have tried to kill the policy.

Huhne urgently needs get a grip on his department and demonstrate that he and not his mandarins are in charge, if he wants to retain any green credibility. That means offering an immediate reassurance that an emissions performance standard will be in this year’s new energy legislation expected in the autumn.

Former Climate & Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband, reacted to the news by telling Left Foot Forward:

“It’s taken less than 100 days for the coalition to reveal their green claims as an empty gesture. Their decision to postpone their plans to clean up coal shows they were never serious about greening the country’s energy supply. This will create more uncertainty and only further delay the important decisions that need to be made to develop clean coal technology.

“The coalition claimed to be the greenest government ever but they are turning their backs on clean coal and green industries. The government should get on with developing the world-leading framework for clean coal that we set out before the election and the four CCS demonstration plants funded by the clean coal levy passed by parliament.”

The Committee on Climate Change has previously advised that new steps are required to ensure that coal stations do not continue to emit high levels of pollution beyond the early 2020s, and advised Ministers to consider the introduction of a new measure like an emissions performance standard, to help put Britain on track to meet the carbon targets set out in the Climate Act.

34 Responses to “Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations?”

  1. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations? //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  2. DrKMJ

    Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations? //bit.ly/aVlmSW via @leftfootfwd

  3. Power of the Future

    Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations? //ow.ly/2q1YD via @leftfootfwd

  4. Gemma Percy

    Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations? //ow.ly/2q1YD via @leftfootfwd

  5. bex sumner

    Depressed more than surprised. Civil servants get their way and "greenest government ever" about to do a u-turn on coal: //is.gd/ejOLS

  6. Pier Barrett

    Surely this cannot be true – //bit.ly/aVlmSW – the worst LD u-turn yet and least understandable too…

  7. Phil Taylor

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Coalition's green claims are an empty gesture" @Ed_Miliband responds to Guardian story on dirty coal //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  8. Shamik Das

    "Coalition's green claims are an empty gesture" – @Ed_Miliband responds to Guardian story on dirty coal //bit.ly/aVlmSW on @leftfootfwd

  9. Luke Walter

    Was I the only one who missed Ed Miliband arguing against coal-fired power stations like Kingsnorth? //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  10. Hitchin England

    "Coalition's green claims are an empty gesture" @Ed_Miliband responds to Guardian story on dirty coal //bit.ly/aVlmSW via @leftfootfwd

  11. Power of the Future

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Coalition's green claims are an empty gesture" @Ed_Miliband responds to Guardian story on dirty coal //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  12. Paul Duxbury

    In just 100 days Coalition demonstrates their commitment to Green renewable energy is empty sham //tinyurl.com/33qabu7 wtg @Ed_Miliband

  13. LadyRoisin

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Coalition's green claims are an empty gesture" @Ed_Miliband responds to Guardian story on dirty coal //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  14. Joss Garman

    RT @leftfootfwd: Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations? //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  15. andy jackson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations? //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  16. Kaveh Azarhoosh

    RT @leftfootfwd "Coalition's green claims are an empty gesture" @Ed_Miliband responds to Guardian story on dirty coal //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  17. Chris Paul

    RT @shamikdas: "Coalition's green claims are an empty gesture" – @Ed_Miliband responds to Guardian story on dirty coal //bit.ly/aVlmSW on @leftfootfwd

  18. Will Straw

    @phil_reilly ps We'd be very happy to run a Lib Dem response to @JossGarman's piece //bit.ly/csuyW8

  19. Jamie Andrews

    the coalition government continues to shed action on climate change credibility like it's going out of fashion //bit.ly/csuyW8

  20. Daniel Vockins

    RT @jamieandrews: the coalition government continues to shed action on climate change credibility like it's going out of fashion //bit.ly/csuyW8

  21. Andrew Pakes

    RT @leftfootfwd: Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations? //bit.ly/csuyW8

  22. Jonathan da Silva

    It’s also a reminder of why we should demand more than placard promises from Labour candidates like the 4 men who backed people like Blair and Brown. Ed Miliband has promised 12 months of joy and flowers to everyone he meets it seems. At least if people show some understanding rather than a surface spin of support then they might have credibility.

    On Green issues we need public support and demonstration of that support only a drunk fool would expect anything from the 3 main parties and their big business tie ins.

    Indeed quite why anyone would quote a pile of rhetoric from Ed Miliband whose Govt was 100% going to do this as well is befuddling. Getting support from such equivocal characters maybe up to 5 years off an election when they need votes is easy. Besides which waiting 5 years for him to ascend is too long. He’s only going to do what his focus group tells him when in power.

  23. Joss Garman

    @ Jonathan da Silva – It’s a fair point to note that Ed M opposed an emission standard being put into his energy bill too – but then he never called for one a few months earlier only to put it ‘on hold’.

    On whether we should quote him, he is the Energy spokesman for the opposition…

  24. Tam Chandler

    RT @leftfootfwd: Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations? //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  25. Chris

    @Jonathan da Silva

    Ermmmm, the issue here isn’t EdM, its the lies that the LibDems have peddled over the past few years. Huhne seems particularly flexible over commitments he has made, over nuclear power he has totally changed his stated position and now it seems he has over EPS.

  26. Tam Chandler

    RT @leftfootfwd: "Coalition's green claims are an empty gesture" @Ed_Miliband responds to Guardian story on dirty coal //bit.ly/aVlmSW

  27. Niel Bowerman

    RT @leftfootfwd: Is Huhne about to approve new dirty coal stations? //bit.ly/csuyW8

  28. Tweetminster

    "Is @ChrisHuhne about to approve new dirty coal stations?" //bit.ly/ahEbzm – Left Foot Forward

  29. Simon

    RT @tweetminster: "Is @ChrisHuhne about to approve new dirty coal stations?" //bit.ly/ahEbzm – Left Foot Forward

  30. Mr. Sensible

    Not surprised.

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  33. Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne | Joss Garman

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