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The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP's article published in the Telegraph on 17 July 2010

Two months ago the Coalition Government published its programme for government, in which we pledged a package of measures to fulfil our joint…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Two months ago the Coalition Government published its programme for government, in which we pledged a package of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for a low carbon and eco-friendly economy.

Speaking at my department during his first few days in office, the Prime Minister announced that this will be the greenest government ever.

he challenge is huge: to reduce the potential impacts of climate change and ensure our future energy security by weaning ourselves off our addiction to fossil fuels. And we face it as we come out of recession, wrestling with our biggest ever peacetime deficit.

Economic recovery, energy security and climate stabilisation all require a commitment to a consistent, long term policy and this month I will present to Parliament the first of our promised annual statements on energy policy.

Alongside this we will publish the detailed analysis and underpinning data of the 2050 Pathways project, which will help us understand the scale of the challenge and the choices and trade-offs we will have to make over the next 40 years.

The long term task is nothing less than the transformation of our economy, to put in place the right incentives for low-carbon growth to create the investment, exports and jobs we need to bring back economic prosperity. In short, we must seize our share of the green technology revolution and make the UK the best place in the world to do energy business.

During that transition we must secure diversity of energy supplies from abroad while making the most of our home-grown energy, including north sea oil and gas, and developing renewables technologies such as wind and marine.

There can be a role for nuclear so long as there is no public subsidy, a pledge set out in the coalition agreement and guaranteed by the state of the public finances. Carbon capture and storage can also provide us with a low carbon energy source to meet peaks in energy demand.

It will be government’s role to provide the long term certainty in which to develop this new energy infrastructure. £200 billion of investment is needed over the coming decade and we intend to leverage private sector investment through a Green Investment Bank.

We are working on a wide range of options for the scope and structure of the Bank and will bring forward detailed proposals in the autumn. In the recent Emergency Budget the Chancellor also announced that we will reshape the Climate Change Levy as the way of delivering our coalition commitment to a carbon price floor, in order to boost investment across the range of low carbon energy technologies.

The cheapest way of closing the gap between energy demand and supply is through energy saving measures. The Green Deal for households will be established through legislation in the forthcoming Energy Security and Green Economy Bill and will encourage home energy efficiency improvements such as insulation and lagging, paid for by savings from energy bills.

Energy saving will also mean smart meters and smart grids that can give consumers control over their appliances, curb energy waste and save money. We will take measures to improve energy efficiency in businesses and public sector buildings - we are leading by example with a target to reduce central government carbon emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months.

The transition to a low carbon UK will be a mammoth task and will in time directly affect us all. Inaction, however, is not an option and the potential rewards for our country are vast.
That is why I will be looking keenly at the progress of the Telegraph/Shell Age of Energy partnership and hope participants and readers alike find it an informative initiative.

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Published 17 July 2010