U.K. Lawmakers Propose Changes to Set Energy Carbon Goal

U.K. lawmakers in Parliament’s upper chamber proposed adding a carbon target for power generation to energy legislation after an attempt in the lower house failed.

The plan by Nicholas Stern and Ronald Oxburgh, unaffiliated to any party, and Bryony Worthington, a member of the opposition Labour Party, would amend the proposed law to compel the government to set in 2014 a target to decarbonize the power industry by 2030. It will be debated today in the House of Lords.

“The U.K. needs to replace much of its electricity generation infrastructure within the next 15 years or so as old nuclear and fossil fuel power stations reach the end of their lives,” Stern said in an e-mailed statement. “A requirement within the energy bill to set an ambitious target next year to decarbonize the U.K. power sector by 2030, is affordable, responsible and good for growth.”

Manufacturers including Danish wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems A/S and France’s nuclear reactor builder Areva SA say the target is needed to send a signal to investors that the government is committed to developing renewable power beyond 2020. The goal was recommended to the government by its own adviser, the Committee on Climate Change.

Legal Provision

Instead of setting a goal as soon as possible, ministers included a provision in the law for a target to be set in 2016, after the U.K.’s fifth carbon budget has been set for the five years through 2032. The budgets set out how much carbon dioxide the U.K. can emit in five-year periods to help the country cut emissions by 80 percent in the six decades through 2050.

Labour and rebel members of the ruling Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition failed in June to amend the bill to include a target when it was debated in the House of Commons.

The bill, introduced to Parliament 11 months ago, seeks to stimulate 110 billion pounds ($178 billion) of investment in power stations and the electricity grid, needed as aging generators retire from service.

A “target could unlock billions of pounds of private investment in the U.K. power sector, generating a much-needed and sustainable boost to economic growth, and providing the extra capacity necessary to keep the lights on,” Stern said.

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