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PIU Review

15 February 2002


The recommendations contained in a major report to the Government on energy policy represent a significant step forward, but do not yet add up to a sustainable energy policy, says the Sustainable Development Commission.

Commenting on yesterday's Energy Review from the Performance and Innovation Unit, Jonathon Porritt, the Commission Chairman, said: 'The core failing of this report is its lack of long term vision. It completely ducks the challenge made by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution that the UK should start heading towards a 60% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The Government should adopt the RCEP recommendation without further

'The global climate is changing, risking damage on an immense scale. We can't stop it, but we can slow it down, and we must. The Royal Commission's recommendation would at least stabilise the greenhouse effect in the long term. Given the inevitability that new low-carbon technologies will be needed, UK industry must be encouraged and enabled to get ahead of the field. The Government should do this by giving a clear signal of its long term goal and then putting in place the instruments needed to achieve it.'

Having said that, we warmly welcome the scaling up of the target for renewable energy, although it would have been good to have seen it even higher. There are some frank words about the abysmal past performance of the UK on domestic energy efficiency, and the prospect of a package of measures to put this right. And we welcome the recognition that all is not well with the New Electricity Trading Arrangements (which make it very difficult for small renewables suppliers) and that there needs to be a more flexible approach to getting renewable energy facilities through the maze that is our planning system.

Note to editors

The Performance and Innovation Unit of the Cabinet Office published its report 'The Energy Review' yesterday.

Established in October 2000, the Sustainable Development Commission www.sdcommission. org.uk is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Cabinet Office and reporting to the Prime Minister and the leaders of the devolved administrations. The Commission's objectives include advocating a compelling vision of a sustainable economy and society and reviewing how far sustainable development is being achieved in the UK across all sectors.

The Commission is engaged on a major programme of work on energy and climate change. As part of that, it offered the PIU a detailed critique of current energy policy, based on sustainable development criteria, and a comparison of the merits of meeting our future energy needs by greater efficiency in its use, renewable sources and nuclear power. This concluded that efficiency and renewables scored more highly in meeting economic, environmental and social goals than did nuclear power. And it made a number of specific policy recommendations, eg for
promoting renewable energy.

The Commission is also beginning an audit of the Government's Climate Change Programme. And it is preparing to look at how deep cuts in carbon emissions may be made in a region, a city, an organisation and at other levels.

The Twenty Second Report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution Energy - the Changing Climate was published in June 2000. It recommended that 'The government should now adopt a strategy which puts the UK on a path to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by some 60% from current levels by about 2050.'

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