The Government has fought off a vote to bring in a 2030 target to decarbonise the power sector – but only just.
Yesterday the Energy Bill was presented in the House of Commons for the third time but MPs voted against an amendment forcing the Government to set the target in 2014, earlier than intended. Instead the legislation only includes powers to set the 2030 target.
Tim Yeo, Conservative backbench MP who led the rebellion against the Government told ELN: “The Government won the vote by a majority of 23 that represents a very significant cut in their usual majority which is about 80.”
Despite the Lib Dems’ being in favour of the policy, many likely voted with the Government – and the Treasury – to avoid Coalition friction.
Mr Yeo said he had been “hoping” for a few more Liberal Democrats because it was their party’s policy but admitted the Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey “has played a very straight bat on this”.
He added: “He (Ed Davey) obviously made an agreement with the Treasury before Christmas, he has stuck honourable by that agreement and that’s to his credit. But that meant the number of Liberal Democrat rebels was probably lower than it otherwise would have been.”
When asked about fears the decarbonisation target may not be set at all, he said: “That’s always been the danger… The reason why my amendment was going to insist this target was set not later than 2014 is because it is prolonging the uncertainty. If you’re an investor in any kind of energy in the UK, you’re going to wonder, is this Government really committed to the path they’ve set out?”
Caroline Flint MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change said the defeat was “a humiliating failure” for Lib Dems and a “betrayal of David Cameron’s promise to be the greenest government ever.”
Others echoed the concern, with Renewable Energy Association and environmental group both describing the vote as “disappointing”.
Mark Kenber, CEO of non-profit organisation The Climate Group warned the lack of a target could fritter away the UK’s green economic potential: “We are squandering the value we have already created and it will lock the UK into a high carbon pathway which will make it much more expensive for us to meet our domestic and international climate change obligations.”