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20.04.12

Coalition rift over green policies

Deputy PM Nick Clegg and Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey are struggling to maintain the Government’s commitment to strict green targets and taxes.

Senior Conservatives have been urging the downgrading of green commitments in a number of areas, such as renewable energy, and the compulsory parts of the Green Deal.

The two Lib Dem Cabinet members, in a piece for the Guardian, called for businesses to be subject to higher costs for every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted.

The current EU emissions trading system isn’t working, they say, because permits were over-allocated and the recession has depressed the price further, meaning few companies are financially incentivised to seriously tackle their carbon emissions.

Clegg and Davey write: “The price of carbon has plummeted. In 2006 a tonne would fetch around £28. Now – thanks to the downturn, and a glut of permits – it's barely £6. That's bad for the environment: when it's cheap to pump out carbon there's less incentive for firms to go green. But it's also bad for the economy, because it makesEuropeless attractive to low-carbon investment.”

Joss Garman, campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “With European talks on climate change at a critical juncture, it’s encouraging to see Nick Clegg reaffirming the coalition's support for a measure that would boost clean energy investment in theUKand acrossEurope. But Ed Davey risks undermining this noble ambition by allowing a new dash for gas-fired power generation here at home that would blow a hole in national efforts to curb carbon emissions and also expose families and businesses to spiralling energy bills.”

Edward Davey image: Crown Copyright

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