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Written ministerial statement on the carbon plan

The Government is today publishing the Carbon Plan, setting out the Government’s long-term plans to meet its carbon targets, including the fourth…

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

The Government is today publishing the Carbon Plan, setting out the Government’s long-term plans to meet its carbon targets, including the fourth carbon budget set earlier this year. The plan shows how doing so will set us on a plausible pathway to our 2050 target to reduce emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels. The plan will help drive new high-value economic sectors and save billions through energy efficiency.

The Carbon Plan shows that UK emissions have already been cut by more than 25% on 1990 levels. With the policies already in place the economy will easily exceed the 34% target set for the first 15 years under the Climate Change Act, and would have done so even if the recession had not occurred. Meeting the fourth carbon budget of a 50% cut in emissions by the mid-2020s will not have any additional cost implications during this Parliament, but beyond that will galvanise jobs and investment during a decade of mass deployment of key technologies.

In the next decadethe UK will complete the cost-effective measures begun in the previous decade, in particular focusing on energy efficiency. We will also need to prepare for the future by demonstrating and deploying the key technologies needed to entirely decarbonise power, buildings and road transport in the 2020s and beyond. Rather than picking winners, the Government will support the development of a portfolio of technologies for each sector in order to drive innovation and lower costs. As part of the Carbon Plan, we are publishing the updated list of the key actions that each government department and the Devolved Administrations are taking in each sector during the lifetime of this Parliament, to provide further transparency and accountability.

In the 2020sthese key technologies will move towards mass roll out. Developing options now will not only reduce the costs of deployment in the 2020s, but it will also enable the UK to gain a long-term competitive advantage.

Up to 2030 and beyond, emissions from the hard-to-treat sectors, such as industry, shipping and agriculture - will need to be tackled. This will require a range of solutions to be tested in the 2020s at the latest, such as more efficient practices in agriculture; switching from oil and gas to bioenergy or low-carbon electricity in industrial processes; and deploying carbon capture and storage.

Today’s package represents a significant step forward in our commitment of moving to a low carbon economy. To the negotiators in Durban working this week and next to make progress on a global agreement on climate change, the Carbon Plan shows the UK is walking the walk, demonstrating that even in tough times it can be done and living up to our promise to show climate leadership.

To the public and businesses at home, rightly worried about the cost of living and state of the economy, the Carbon Plan shows that the gradual rebalancing of our economy away from carbon is achievable and, in the long run, highly desirable.

Our national economic interest is to be found in a cost-effective transition to low carbon. Every bit of progress we make is one more step away from import dependency, away from the emissions that are likely to lead to savage weather impacts, and towards an economy that wastes less and saves more.

The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP

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Published 1 December 2011