On 21 January, 3 new Private Members' Bills, relating to Green Energy and Carbon Emissions were presented to Parliament. They had their first reading. However, there was no debate on any of the Bills at this stage. They are unlikely to be printed until closer to their second readings in the summer, so substantive comment is not possible at this stage.

THE CLIMATE CHANGE (SECTORAL TARGETS) BILL

The central aim of the Bill is to help the UK meet its 80% carbon reduction target, whilst trying to ensure that energy needs can be satisfied going forwards. The targets set generally reflect Government stated objectives, however go a step further by making them binding.

The Bill would set initial targets relating to energy efficiency in residential accommodation and commercial and public services. It would also set targets relating to the quality of electricity generated from renewable sources; the amount of combined heat and power capacity (10GW by 2010) and the number of dwellings with one or more microgeneration installations.

It would require the Secretary of State in consultation with organisations representing environmental interests, business interests, and energy sector interests (renewables, combined heat and power and the microgeneration industry) to specify further targets.

The second reading of the Bill will take place on 8 May 2009.

THE INDUSTRIAL CARBON EMISSION (TARGETS) BILL

The Bill, introduced by Mr. Charles Kennedy, aims to make provision for the establishment of carbon emissions performance targets for electricity generating stations. The Bill also seeks to boost the development of carbon sequestration technology.

The Bill – inspired by the success of a similar initiative in California – puts a cap on the amount of carbon dioxide which can be emitted per unit of electricity generated by new power stations. Had it been in place, it is claimed by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, that it would have prevented the Government from proceeding with plans for the new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent.

Commenting on the measure, Mr Kennedy said:

“The Government knows it needs to do more to clean up its act on energy if it is to meet the ambitious targets in the Climate Change Act."

“This is a simple step we can take to get there. It does not favour any one technology over another: it simply prevents the development of our emerging clean energy industry from being suffocated by short-sighted reliance on polluting fossil fuels, as at Kingsnorth in Kent.”

Dr Keith Allott, Head of Climate Change at WWF, welcomed the Bill, saying:

“The Committee on Climate Change has made it clear that the UK needs to have almost fully decarbonised its power sector by 2030 and cannot rely solely on carbon markets to achieve this. This Bill will help ensure that the UK sets the right framework to meet its emissions reduction targets and maintains its leadership on climate change."

The second reading of the Bill is due to take place on 3 July 2009.

THE GREEN ENERGY (DEFINITION AND PROMOTION) BILL

The Bill was introduced with the aim to define the term “green energy” and to promote its development, installation and usage. In essence, it seeks to cut out the red tape for microgeneration and to promote energy production and energy efficiency measures, improving the planning process and making the installation of small-scale electricity and heat generation easier and more economically viable.

Mr Ainsworth, commenting on his introduction of the Bill, said:

“This Bill will be a major step towards decentralised energy, bringing power, literally, to the people. By making it easier for people to create their own energy and profit from it, we can lower energy costs, encourage investment in a green economy and create jobs. This Bill is about making a fundamental shift in the way Britain produces its energy—away from the model of centralised power that ruins the environment to a model that makes homes and businesses less dependent on foreign fossil fuels”.

The second reading of the Bill will take place on 8 May 2009.