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UK Climate Minister Calls for Massive Energy Efficiency Push, Warms to Nuclear

The UK’s forthcoming ‘Green Deal’ will create a quarter of a million jobs insulating homes, paid for by utilities in exchange for a share of the energy savings, according to the Secretary of State for Climate Change and Energy Chris Huhne.

Speaking at his party’s annual conference on Monday, Liberal Democrat Huhne also softened his opposition to nuclear power – a long-held party shibboleth not shared by the Conservative party, the senior partner in Britain’s coalition government.  

Huhne repeated the claim that the coalition government, which came to power in May, will be the UK’s “greenest government ever”. However, the UK’s budget deficit means that different approaches are needed to meet the government’s low-carbon objectives, he said.

“Since there is no money left, my department is pioneering new ways of turning this government into the greenest ever,” Huhne said. He explained that, as part of Green Deal legislation, to be introduced before the end of this year, “companies will pay up-front to insulate your home, recovering their spending from the energy savings that will result.”

Such an initiative – which Huhne claimed will be “the most ambitious energy-saving plan ever put forward” – would transform the UK’s insulation industry from one that employs 26,000 people at present to one employing 250,000 by 2030, he predicted.

Somewhat more controversially, he stated that he plans to deliver his part of a “deal” to implement Conservative policy on nuclear power – on the proviso that no public subsidy is involved.

“I’m fed up with the stand-off between renewable and nuclear which means we have neither – we will have both,” he said, stressing that, as a mature technology, no subsidy will be extended to the sector.

He also reiterated the UK government’s support for the EU to move to a target of reducing emissions to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020, up from the current target of 20% – a position the UK shares with France and Germany, but one that is opposed by Italy and a number of eastern European countries, who are concerned over the cost of such a move. 

By. Mark Nicholls

Source: Environmental Finance


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