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Editor’s view: action on carbon, but will it be enough?

Louise Bateman, Editor, GreenWise
9th March 2011
Business has been waiting for some time to get clarity on the Coalition Government’s ambitions to be "greenest government ever". So yesterday’s release of its draft Carbon Action Plan, with a timetable on how to get there, was welcome.
UK Carbon Action Plan
Some important dates unveiled in the Carbon Action Plan included a strategy to support nuclear power to be announced in April, a plan to provide the necessary infrastructure for electric cars by June and a contract for carbon capture and storage by December. There was also a commitment to make the Green Investment Bank functional by 2012. And more clarity will be shed tomorrow on another part of UK Government’s clean energy strategy, when DECC will unveil details of the Renewable Heat Incentive, which is due to be up and running by June.

European roadmap
The UK wasn’t alone yesterday in making announcements on low carbon transition. Over in Brussels, the European Commission unveiled its roadmap for moving to a low carbon economy by 2050, but it didn’t include new targets for cutting EU emissions, as some countries including Britain have called for and Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard wants.

Instead the roadmap focuses on encouraging more investment by European nations in energy efficiency and green technologies. It says such measures will insulate the EU against future fossil fuel price hikes and will prevent Europe losing out to competition. At the moment, the EU is on target to cut its emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 on 1990 levels and deliver 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, but it is not yet on course to increase energy efficiency by 20 per cent.

China’s Five Year Plan
As if to highlight the competition facing Europe, China for the first time has made reference to climate change in its 12th Five Year Plan, details of which have emerged during this week’s National People’s Congress in Beijing. The world’s biggest polluter is already the top manufacturer of solar and wind energy and is now promising incentives for hydro, nuclear and smart grid technology.

US going backwards

The same can’t be said of the US, where Republicans look set to dash President Barack Obama’s green ambitions in a vote on Thursday. The bill they are voting on would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from reducing greenhouse gas emissions from factories and would halt any further cuts in tailpipe emissions from cars after 2016.

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Editor’s view: action on carbon, but will it be enough?
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