Energy secretary Amber Rudd has been quizzed over the need for a concerted plan for heat and transport after the UK government committed to more ambitious climate goals at last week’s COP21 summit in Paris.
An agreement hailed as “historic” was reached late on Saturday following weeks of negotiations between the 195 visiting countries, and a key part of the text includes the obligation for countries to revisit targets and set more ambitious ones for 2025 onward.
“This long-term goal sends a strong signal to investors, businesses, and policy-makers about the shift to a low carbon economy and provides confidence that will help drive the scale of investment needed,” the Department of Energy and Climate Change said in a statement on Monday.
However emails leaked to The Ecologist last month revealed that the UK has fallen woefully behind its carbon reduction targets in the heat and transport sectors. Failure to meet those targets would place an emphasis on the power sector to overachieve and the government has all but closed all routes to market for the cheapest utility-scale renewable generators.
This has prompted questions as to what the government intends to do to stimulate the heat and transport markets and Rudd’s department has been particularly criticised for the uncertainty surrounding the renewable heat incentive and changes to electric vehicle duties which have made them less profitable.
In the House of Commons yesterday Rudd continued to laud the doubling of investment for clean energy technologies under the Mission Innovation programme revealed at the summit, but was grilled by opposition MPs including shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy over how the UK was to meet the more ambitious targets.
Rudd admitted that more progress needed to be made in transport and heat and revealed that DECC is currently “working closely” with the Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government to formulate a plan which will be unveiled next year.
The response from business to the agreement has however called on the government to do more.
Karl Harder, managing director at renewables investment platform Abundance, said: “This is just the start and there are going to be many challenges ahead to ensure the rhetoric translates into strong action from both national government and business.
“Investors are already starting to act, but it’s now time for national policy to remove all barriers to the deployment of capital to renewable energy infrastructure and enable the swift transition the world is now calling for,” he added.
However the Green Alliance’s Matthew Spencer was more optimistic. “It [the agreement] will accelerate the rapid technological change we have already begun to see in our energy system and in the development of the next generation of buildings, cars and household appliances. It challenges the widespread scepticism that politics can ever deliver a better world, because it just did,” he said.