Emissions Standards Needed to Meet U.K. Carbon Targets, MPs Say

Emissions performance standards limiting the amount of carbon dioxide produced by U.K. power stations are needed to meet climate change targets, according to an Energy and Climate Change Committee report released today.

Britain’s existing energy policy is “grossly inadequate” and will not boost investment in low carbon projects like offshore wind farms and nuclear reactors, the committee said. An emissions standard would provide certainty to investors and help lower the cost of investing in green technologies, they said.

“A change in the law to require cleaner power stations is needed to ensure the U.K. doesn’t get left behind with an antiquated, expensive and highly polluting energy system,” committee chairman Tim Yeo said in a statement. “Meeting our climate change targets will become a lot more expensive in future if we don’t act to decarbonize our electricity market.”

The U.K. has pledged to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Britain’s government, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, plans to announce changes to energy regulation this month as it seeks to accelerate investment in low-carbon energy projects to reduce emissions.

The coalition has also promised to introduce emissions performance standards to ensure that no new coal-fired power plants are built without carbon-capture-and-storage equipment. Such a standard has the potential to speed up emissions reductions and stop carbon-intensive plants from being built, the committee said. It could also boost research on carbon capture and storage technologies, they said.

U.K. coal-fired power plants emit around 915 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour of electricity produced, according to the committee. Gas-fired power plants average about 405 grams per kilowatt hour, while nuclear reactors can release as little as 7 grams.

The climate change committee has argued for reducing the carbon intensity of the power sector to less than 70 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour of electricity produced.

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