Nuclear needed for UK's new emissions target

17 October 2008

Ed Miliband, the new energy and climate change minister, has said there must be investment in nuclear power if the UK is to meet its new 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2050.


He announced the new UK target in Parliament yesterday after receiving a report by Lord Adair Turner, chair of the independent Committee on Climate Change. The committee was established in March 2008 after publication of the government's climate change bill, which set a 60% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for the UK. One of the first tasks for the committee was to examine whether an 80% target was feasible and necessary. The committee has now concluded that global emissions need to fall by between 50-60% by 2050 to keep the temperature rise caused by climate change below two degrees Celsius. The committee decided that the UK should reduce its emissions by 80% to play its proper part in meeting that aim.


Miliband said that that the present structure of the energy market was designed in a world of abundant supply, UK energy self-sufficiency, low commodity prices and an emerging debate - but not a settled consensus - on the issue of climate change, but that now there was international competition for resources and a need for new investment in supply; structurally higher energy prices and an urgency about carbon emissions.


To respond to this change in circumstances, Miliband said the UK needed a market that would secure future supply, which must include investment in nuclear power and carbon capture and storage. He also said that he believed that renewable power could play a bigger role, not just in electricity, but also in heating.


Responding to a question from Anne Moffat, Labour MP for East Lothian, Miliband said that he would be telling the Scottish Executive that nuclear power must be part of the UK's energy mix.


The Committee on Climate Change will announce in December a 'carbon budget' for the UK, which will set emissions targets for the UK for the next 15 years. The government will report next year on how it intends to meet those targets.