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Tim Yeo MP energy bill amendment speech

Tim Yeo MP energy bill amendment speech

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Published by Jane Crinnion
Tim Yeo MP energy bill amendment speech, House of Commons, 04/06/2013
Tim Yeo MP energy bill amendment speech, House of Commons, 04/06/2013

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Published by: Jane Crinnion on Jun 04, 2013
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10/12/2013

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I draw attention to my entry in the Register, especially my interests in energy industry.In doing so I emphasise, as I have done before, that my views on climate change, on the needfor Britain to move more swiftly to a low carbon economy and to cut its dependence on fossilfuels, were formed two decades ago when I had ministerial responsibility for this area of  policy.I've not changed these views at any time since then. I've repeated them publicly and privatelyon many occasions throughout the last 20 years. My views have never been influenced at anytime or in any way by my financial interests.All those interests were acquired after I left the Shadow Cabinet in 2005. That was 12 yearsafter I accepted the overwhelming scientific consensus on this subject and begancampaigning for a more urgent response to the challenge of climate change.Various bloggers, columnists and others, including one or two Honourable Friends, whoinsinuate otherwise, and who ignore this scientific consensus, invariably overlook my strongand consistent support for nuclear power, a low carbon technology which should be part of Britain's energy mix.I'm grateful for this opportunity to debate the amendment in the name of honourablemembers from all parties and myself.The amendment is based on a unanimous recommendation made in July last year in theReport of the Energy and Climate Change Committee on the draft Energy Bill.The Govt accepted many of the Committee's recommendations, and by doing so materiallyimproved the Bill.I congratulate my RHF the Secretary of State and his team on their response to our Reportand on the outcome of their negotiations with the Treasury on a range of issues, including theLCF.
 
However for a variety of reasons the need for the amendment we are debating is even greater now than it was when my Committee's Report was published.Firstly, despite some positive signs about the Govt's support for low carbon electricitygeneration, the publication on the day of the Autumn Statement of the Gas Strategy confusedmany investors.The possibility that the Govt might sanction 37 GW of new gas fired generation capacityrests uneasily with its acceptance two years ago of the 4th Carbon Budget which covers the period 2023 to 2027. It suggests that the purpose of next year's review of the 4
th
CarbonBudget is to water it down and weaken incentives for low carbon investment.The understandably envious glances cast across the Atlantic by the Treasury at thetransformation of the US gas market in the wake of the exploitation of shale gas have not passed unnoticed. Not surprisingly there are now doubts in the minds of many prospective investors about thedepth of the Govt's commitment to decarbonising electricity generation.On the issue of shale gas incidentally the ECC Committee was one of the first bodies to urgethe Government, more than two years ago, to approve more exploration and testing toestablish the scale of Britain's shale gas reserves.If our dependence on imported gas can be cut and if consumers can be protected against thefluctuations in international gas prices which have been the main cause of the rise in domesticenergy prices in the last few years then that is wholly to be welcomed.However my Committee also warned in our more recent Report on Shale Gas that it would berash to base energy policy on the assumption that Britain will soon be a major shale gas producer.The opposition to exploring for shale gas in Sussex which is already emerging is a foretasteof the battle for public opinion which must be won before domestic production of shale gason even a modest scale can occur.
 
 The case for a diversified energy mix is therefore as strong as ever.Secondly, although we hear regular warnings about a looming capacity crisis in electricitygeneration, and the consequent risk of power cuts, there is a curious complacency about theGovernment's attitude.Investment in new generating capacity is now at a low level.The nuclear talks between Government and EDF remain unfinished. Even if, as I now expect,they are brought to a successful though belated conclusion it will be 2020 at the earliest before a single KW of electricity is generated by a new nuclear power station in Britain. New investment in coal is unlikely to occur until an economically viable form of CarbonCapture and Storage is available. Despite the huge potential market for CCS there is no signanywhere in the world of this happening.I am an enormous fan of CCS. It is the single technology the world most urgently needs toaddress Climate Change but we may have to wait another decade or even longer for a breakthrough on this front.Meanwhile coal can currently be imported cheaply from America so our remaining coal fired power stations are running flat out.Gas generation, the great white hope of many people, is currently so unprofitable that, far from large scale new investment taking place, some plant is currently mothballed.Critically, potential investors in gas generation are holding back until the details of theGovernment's proposed capacity mechanism are known. I urge my Right Honourable Friendto publish these details as soon as possible.

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