Green Manifesto 2010 Energy
Reducing demand, securing supply
•Prioritise the new 3 Rs: Remove, Reduce, Replace. First remove demand altogether where possible (e.g. by energy-efficiency measures); then switch to renewables for whatever energy need is left.
• Discourage use of fossil fuels by bringing back the fuel duty escalator, increasing duty in real terms by 8% per annum and through a series of other measures in this manifesto.
• In the longer run, introduce carbon quotas (see box on page 37) and protect low-income households, especially pensioners, from fuel poverty.Without these measures, ‘peak oil’ will disastrously undermine our social fabric.
• The private sector has not responded to the challenge of renewable energy with sufficient vigour and investment.
We would introduce a massive programme of direct Government investment in largescale wind and other renewable generation, and investment in the grid, spending as much as £20bn over the Parliament and creating 80,000 jobs in installation and equipment manufacture.
• Require all major development plans and planning applications to show how they will contribute to carbon reduction targets.
• Aim to obtain about half our energy from renewable sources by 2020 and ensure that emissions from power generation are zero by 2030.
• Phase out nuclear power and resolutely oppose any new nuclear power stations.
Nuclear power is expensive and takes longer to produce than renewable energies.
In addition to its known risks, there is still no safe or affordable way of disposing of nuclear waste.
Peak oil – dwindling supplies
Oil is a finite resource; there is only so much in the ground. One day it will run out.
But our problems begin long before then. The global rate of oil production is about to reach a maximum, stay constant for a number of years, and then gradually decline. This peak and decline in oil production has already happened on a national scale in many countries, including the USA (1971) and in the UK (1999). The majority of predictions for the global peak fall between now and 2015.
Once demand for oil exceeds supply the price will go up. From now on, oil is going to be dirtier, harder to extract and more expensive to refine. A similar fate awaits natural gas.
The peak in gas production is expected to be later than for oil, but the decline will be much faster when it occurs.
We use oil for nearly everything in our modern way of life – as fuel for transport and heating, and as a feedstock for solvents, plastics, asphalt, pharmaceuticals and packaging. Oil is also vital for today’s industrial agriculture, providing chemical fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, fuelling machinery, processing and food delivery. High oil prices will wreck economies, leading to inflation and slump. Competition for oil has already led to war.
Nuclear power is not the answer
We recognise that some environmentalists, faced with the urgent need to combat climate change, have reluctantly decided that nuclear power will have to be part of the energy mix.
We do not agree. For example:
• Sustainable Development Commission research has established that even if the UK’s existing nuclear capacity were doubled, it would only result in an 8% cut in CO2 emissions by 2035.
• No long-term solutions to the problem of nuclear waste are yet available.
• The economics of nuclear new-build are highly uncertain, whereas wind power, for example, is now well established and predictable. There is a clear risk that the taxpayer will have to pick up the tab.
• Nuclear is a centralised system of generation when we should be pressing ahead with micro-generation and local distribution networks.
• A new nuclear programme gives the impression that a major technological fix is all that’s required, undermining the need for energy efficiency.
• If we build new nuclear power stations, we cannot stop other countries doing so. This increases the risks of accidents, radiation exposure, proliferation and terrorist attacks.
• Not permit any further investment in new coal-fuelled power stations.
• Encourage renewable heat and combined heat and power by levying a waste heat tax on new power stations and by helping councils develop heat distribution networks in suitable urban areas. Work to increase the adoption of biogas from organic sources such as agricultural and sewage waste materials, working with the water companies to build digestion plants.
• Oppose the large-scale cultivation of bio-fuels,especially in poor countries where they compete with land for food, or result in the destruction of tropical forests.
• Introduce stronger planning policies to support onshore wind, tidal, wave, solar and geothermal energy schemes, and help local planning authorities to make more consistent decisions. Give micro-renewables ‘permitted development’ status.
• Bring the electricity network and gas mains into a fully accountable public sector and develop them where needed for renewable energy schemes.
• Introduce smart meters and appliances.
• Enlarge and develop renewable energy feed-in tariffs paying premium rates for large and small producers of renewable electricity
• Support Europe-wide renewable energy initiatives such as an under-sea grid for offshore wind and marine power, concentrating solar power plants in southern Europe and the North African deserts and the building of highly efficient long-distance high-voltage DC power lines.
Carbon quotas would work like this
Each year a carbon budget would be set for the UK. The budget would define the total amount of carbon dioxide that can legally be emitted, and thus the total number of carbon quota units available. This budget would be successively reduced each year in line with targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
About half the carbon quotas would be distributed, free of charge, to all the adults in the country. Each person would have a ‘carbon account’ and would receive the same number of carbon units. Parents would receive a lower allocation on behalf of their children.
The rest of the carbon units would be sold by the Government to companies and other organisations.
Whenever you buy fossil fuels (or airline or train tickets) your carbon account card would be debited. You would have to pay in carbon units as well as in pounds and pence. If you buy other goods or services that involve carbon emissions in their manufacture or delivery, then the units the manufacturer has used will be reflected in the price.
You will be able to sell excess carbon units, or buy extra units if you need to, at a wide range of outlets, like petrol stations or from energy companies.
As poorer people use less carbon, carbon quotas would redistribute wealth significantly.
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