UK Government to adopt carbon pricing

While climate and energy policy in Australia remain mired in acrimonious squabbling, the UK’s Conservative Government has released a bold new plan for a low carbon future.

And it includes a carbon price.

The new UK Clean Growth Strategy is a comprehensive 163 page document. It was released on 12 October by Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark.

He described it as “the government’s strategy on how the whole country can benefit from low carbon economic opportunities through the creation of new technologies and new businesses, which creates jobs and prosperity across the UK, while meeting our ambitious national targets to tackle climate change.

“This government has put clean growth at the heart of its industrial strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change.

“For the first time in a generation, the British government is leading the way on taking decisions on new nuclear, rolling out smart meters and investing in low carbon innovation.

“The world is moving from being powered by polluting fossil fuels to clean energy. It’s as big a change as the move from the age of steam to the age of oil and Britain is showing the way.”

Perhaps someone should tell the Australian Government.

The report sets out in detail 50 policies and proposals in seven categories:

  • Accelerating clean growth: a number of financial incentives
  • Improving business and industry efficiency: develop a package of measures to support businesses to improve their energy productivity, by at least 20 percent by 2030.
  • Improving the energy efficiency of homes.
  • Accelerating the shift to low carbon transport
  • Delivering clean, smart, flexible power: including the phasing out of ‘unabated’ coal by 2025, and an increase in the use of nuclear energy.
  • Enhancing the benefits and value of the UK’s natural resources
  • Public sector efficiencies and “government leadership in driving clean growth.”

A key aspect of the UK strategy is the introduction of a price on carbon, a strategy adopted by the Australian Government in 2010 by the Gillard Labor Government but subsequently abandoned by Tony Abbot’s Liberals.

The UK Government will “target a total carbon price in the power sector which will give businesses greater clarity on the total price they will pay for each tonne of emissions. Further details on carbon prices for the 2020s will be set out in the Autumn 2017 Budget.”

The report talks a lot about wind power, and the expansion of Britain’s nuclear energy program. Solar does not get much of a mention, but then the country is not known for its sunny skies and warm temperatures.

The full strategy is available here.

The contrast with Australia’s lack of strategy could not be sharper. The UK has its share of climate sceptics, but they are not strongly represented in the Government as they are in Australia.

The UK also does not have a federal system, and it does not have a powerful Senate. It has more than double Australia’s population (the differential was much greater not so long ago), but its wheels of government turn much more smoothly.

More importantly, it has political leaders capable of making decisions.

Australia’s turn.

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