Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne

In a letter to today’s paper, the energy and climate change secretary has, in effect, confirmed that the emissions standard won’t be included in the coalition’s first energy bill. Instead, he uses the letter to reaffirm his commitment to bring forward the new green measure “as quickly as possible”.

Yesterday The Guardian splashed with the news that the coalition’s promise to introduce an emissions performance standard (EPS) to stop the most polluting power stations has been ‘put on hold’ and wouldn’t be in the coalition’s first energy law, which is expected to come before Parliament later this year.

This prompted Left Foot Forward to ask:

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

In a letter to today’s paper, the energy and climate change secretary has, in effect, confirmed that the emissions standard won’t be included in the coalition’s first energy bill. Instead, he uses the letter to reaffirm his commitment to bring forward the new green measure “as quickly as possible”.

His letter promises a consultation within six months of the election and a white paper within a year and adds:

“The view that this might raise the possibility of new coal-fired power stations “slipping through the system” is ludicrous.”

Let’s unpick what this means in real terms.

Right now Peel Power has a live application to build a largely unabated coal plant at Hunterston in Scotland and the company wants approval for this imminently. Under the rules Ed Miliband introduced, if this were to be approved this plant would be mandated to include only a small pilot of CCS technology. That is all. With their flagship green EPS policy, the coalition pledged to go further. Now we know this won’t happen for literally years.

So in the meantime, if Huhne gives the nod to Hunterston, this new power station will pollute more than eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year for the foreseeable – far in excess of the pollution levels from a modern gas plant – remember David Cameron and George Osborne pledged to set their emissions limit at the level of a modern gas plant or lower. Furthermore, without their promised emissions performance standard in this year’s bill, there’s also no provision to reduce emissions from a plant like Hunterston in future.

This is despite advice from the government’s own advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, that the power sector must be completely decarbonised by 2030 – and despite their recommendation that no coal plant should be operating in the UK without full CCS by 2025 at the latest.

Given all of this, let’s assume four new coal stations go ahead – each with a small scale pilot of CCS paid for by taxpayers – as outlined under the last government. Without an emissions performance standard agreed this year, this could lead to tens of millions of tonnes of carbon pollution, year in year out, indefinitely. This alone could destroy the UK’s chance of hitting the carbon targets set out in the Climate Change Act.

You have to ask why both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems were able to try and force an emissions performance standard into Ed Miliband’s Energy Bill – New Clause 15 – at the end of the last Parliament, which would have ensured the detail of an EPS would be before Parliament within 12 months of his bill passing, but now aren’t even considering putting something into their own first energy bill which would enable them to do precisely what they asked of Labour.

As the now energy minister, Tory MP Charles Hendry, said at the time:

“The critical point is that new clause 15 would put in place a time scale. It is a tight one, suggesting that proposals should be established for consultation within six months and confirmed and laid before Parliament within 12 months. In the time scale in which decisions would have to be made, businesses in Britain or elsewhere would know exactly what would be expected of them for some decades to come.

“That degree of clarity would be extremely helpful to them.”

Quite. But instead of providing such clarity, Charles Hendry and Chris Huhne are now kicking their totemic green pledge into the long grass by consulting into 2011 with the prospect of possibly putting an EPS into an energy bill some time after that – if indeed they even do another energy bill.

In the meantime, I understand Mr Huhne’s officials are busy preparing new measures to encourage Gulf-style offshore deep sea drilling in UK waters and that these new arrangements will be included in that same energy bill that won’t include their pledged EPS.

49 Responses to “Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne”

  1. Joss Garman

    Just blogged on Huhne's response to yday's Guardian coal story and what it means: //bit.ly/9ikxVV

  2. Rob Bailey

    Oh dear RT @jossgarman Just blogged on Huhne's response to yday's Guardian coal story and what it means: //bit.ly/9ikxVV

  3. Joss Garman

    @allegrastratton @phil_reilly @ed_miliband @James_BG Just blogged on Huhne's response to Guardian coal story //bit.ly/9ikxVV

  4. Rupert Read

    Brilliant work, Joss.
    We are fast learning just what good Orange-Book-boys Huhne and Cable are. The mask has well and truly slipped.

  5. RupertRead

    RT @jossgarman: Just blogged on Huhne's response to yday's Guardian coal story and what it means: //bit.ly/9ikxVV

  6. Joss Garman

    @guardianeco @libcon Just blogged on Huhne's response to Guardian coal story //bit.ly/9ikxVV

  7. Jon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Measures 2 clean up power sector won’t B in coalition’s energy law says Huhne //bit.ly/9ikxVV <Cant reverse climate

  8. Shamik Das

    Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne //bit.ly/b1Eth9 reports @jossgarman on @leftfootfwd

  9. Lucy Pearce

    RT @jossgarman: Just blogged on Huhne's response to yday's Guardian coal story and what it means: //bit.ly/9ikxVV

  10. Jonathan da Silva

    Looks like effective Climate Change action has to happen out of parliament – placard politicians only support making hard decisions in opposition or when told by focus groups (listen to Road to Damascus Ed M talk about what percentage of working class voters Labour lost – so principal led policy Not! Refocusing our focus groups yes).

    Cuts are reversible Climate Change realistically is not. It’s clear what our focus should be. I might be ready to demonstrate again after 20 years.

  11. Hitchin England

    Measures to clean up power sector wont be in coalitions energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9 via @leftfootfwd

  12. Matthew Owen

    RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  13. Billy Blofeld

    I don’t want coal or gas. I want nuclear.

  14. Robin Webster

    gov trying to kill env promises on coal whilst pushing for offshore deep sea drilling. //bit.ly/9ikxVV

  15. Andy Parsons

    RT @jossgarman: Just blogged on Huhne's response to yday's Guardian coal story and what it means: //bit.ly/9ikxVV

  16. Will Straw

    V gd analysis by @JossGarman on how Huhne's Guardian letter reveals the Gov are slowing down on clean power //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  17. paulstpancras

    RT @wdjstraw: V gd analysis by @JossGarman on how Huhne's Guardian letter reveals the Gov are slowing down on clean… //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  18. yorkierosie

    RT @wdjstraw: V gd analysis by @JossGarman on how Huhne's Guardian letter reveals the Gov are slowing down on clean power //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  19. Greenpeace UK

    RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  20. Daniel Vockins

    Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law – shocking or playing out as planned? //bit.ly/byuReQ

  21. sunny hundal

    Aargh. Chris Huhne was one Coalition minister I liked. Seems he's abandoning green ideals too //bit.ly/dx5aW1

  22. Jude Smith

    RT @greenpeaceuk: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law,.//bit.ly/b1Eth9 – Coalit Gov, Liars? surely not

  23. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal Aargh. Chris Huhne was one Coalition minister I liked. Seems he's abandoning green ideals too //bit.ly/dx5aW1

  24. Pen

    RT @wdjstraw: V gd analysis by @JossGarman on how Huhne's Guardian letter reveals the Gov are slowing down on clean power //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  25. Rosie

    RT @houseoftwits: RT @sunny_hundal Aargh. Chris Huhne was one Coalition minister I liked. Seems he's abandoning green ideals too //bit.ly/dx5aW1

  26. Richard Blogger

    Hmmm, was there any intervention from the Treasury?

  27. nicoj

    RT @greenpeaceuk: RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  28. Jack Watkins

    RT @greenpeaceuk: RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  29. Adam Bell

    Why you don’t put in the rest of the quote is beyond me: “We consider planning applications thoroughly and will not allow any new coal power station to be built unless equipped with carbon capture and storage.” The presumption that Huhne will follow Milliband’s rules is ridiculous – the test is not what you think might happen but what does actually happen. This is partisan nonsense until then.

  30. Hannah Nicklin

    RT @sunny_hundal: Aargh. Chris Huhne was one Coalition minister I liked. Seems he's abandoning green ideals too //bit.ly/dx5aW1

  31. matthew taylor

    RT @wdjstraw: V gd analysis by @JossGarman on how Gov are slowing down on clean power //bit.ly/b1Eth9 Shameful

  32. mrmatthewtaylor

    RT @wdjstraw: V gd analysis by @JossGarman on how Gov are slowing down on clean power //bit.ly/b1Eth9 Shameful

  33. Stop Climate Chaos

    RT @greenpeaceuk: RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  34. James Nee

    Why can't the coalition gov. be as tough on their environmental pledges are they're being with the cuts? //trunc.it/agzom

  35. Ash

    Jonathan da Silva –

    “listen to Road to Damascus Ed M talk about what percentage of working class voters Labour lost – so principal led policy Not! Refocusing our focus groups yes).”

    That seems unnecessarily cynical; I think all Ed M is doing is making the case that the supposed tension between sticking up for traditional Labour principles and winning elections is now largely illusory. I don’t find it that hard to believe that Ed M is by instinct a left-leaning type who was persuaded, in the New Labour era, of the need to reach out to the middle classes, rather than a right-leaning type who is now persuaded of the need to reach out to the working classes.

  36. Joan Gala

    RT @greenpeaceuk RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  37. Wera Hobhouse

    RT @greenpeaceuk: RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  38. sallymumbycroft

    RT @sunny_hundal: Aargh. Chris Huhne was one Coalition minister I liked. Seems he's abandoning green ideals too //bit.ly/dx5aW1

  39. If Tories re-opened the mines, would Labour oppose? « Outside In

    […] August 17, 2010 by Michael Interesting story popping up in the Guardian, the first paragraph of which neatly sums up the story; ‘The coalition is watering down a commitment to tough new environmental emissions standards, raising the possibility of dirty coal-fired power stations such as Kingsnorth going ahead.’ The news is also covered in rather more detail by Left Foot Forward, here). […]

  40. Ian McQueen

    RT @greenpeaceuk: RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  41. More woe for Clegg as Ed Miliband slams Coalition’s 100-day record | Left Foot Forward

    […] slashing the number of university places; axing the Green Investment Bank; abandoning support for clean coal; scrapping the Building Schools for the Future programme; abandoning the young people’s […]

  42. Joss Garman

    @ Adam – The question is how much CCS and by when – and what happens if that CCS turns out not to be viable for whatever reason? Presumably that mean high levels of pollution indefinitely?

  43. Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law | Cut Global Warming

    […] 17th, 2010 by admin This blog first appeared on Left Foot Forward, and this decision could have far-reaching implications for where we get our energy from. If that […]

  44. Paul Barasi

    RT @greenpeaceuk: RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  45. René Leonhardt

    RT @greenpeaceuk: RT @leftfootfwd: Measures to clean up power sector won’t be in coalition’s energy law, reveals Huhne: //bit.ly/b1Eth9

  46. Juliet Swann

    Actually Hunterston isn’t Chris Huhne’s decision, it’s in the hands of the Scottish Government and the consultation has just closed. Friends of the Earth Scotland are working with other NGOs in Scotland to fight the development – all support / noisy e-mails to the Scottish Government appreciated!

  47. The Milibrothers take the green test | Left Foot Forward

    […] CCS to meet the emissions performance standard”. As well as being vague, the Guardian recently reported that the coalition has shelved this flagship green policy as new standards won’t be part of this […]

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    […] almost complete disregard for even the most basic green initiatives are more reasons why the Greens stand in a well-placed […]

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    […] key green pledges aimed at tackling illegal logging and encouraging green energy pioneers, and put another – aimed at regulation pollution from power stations – on […]

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