UK blueprint for a green revolution  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The Guardian has an article by John Vidal on proposed government initiatives on clean energy (whether or not anything actually eventuates is an open question, given the UK's pitiful track record) - Revealed: UK's blueprint for a green revolution. It also sounds pretty heavy handed, with too much talk of "forcing" people to do certain things. Just impose a carbon tax, hand it back in the form of income tax cuts and subsidies for public transport and urban renewal and be done with it says I.

Also by John Vidal - Wind power to drive green revolution.

One in four British homes could be fitted with solar heating equipment and 3,500 wind turbines could be erected across Britain within 12 years as part of a green energy revolution to be proposed by the government next week.

The long-awaited renewable energy strategy, a copy of which has been seen by the Guardian, will say Britain needs to make a £100bn dash to build up its clean power supply if it is to reach its EU-imposed target of producing 15% of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The UK could cut its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 20% and reduce its dependency on oil by 7% within 12 years if it conducts the massive overhaul of energy production and consumption outlined in the strategy document, according to the government.

But at a time of mounting consumer anger over rising fuel prices, it also concedes that greening Britain's power supply will push up energy bills and increase fuel poverty.

The proposals include:

· New powers to force people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes when they renovate them;
· A 30-fold increase in offshore wind power generation;
· New loans, grants and incentives for businesses and households;
· An area the size of Essex to be planted with trees and other crops to produce biomass energy;
· Forcing people to replace inefficient appliances such as oil-fired boilers.

Although the proposals are contained in a consultation document, the government has committed to hitting the 15% target and ministers accept most of the measures will have to be introduced to achieve it.

3 comments

I really like the idea of a carbon tax, especially for Australia where you could easily tax it as soon as it was dug up/imported.

But exactly how would it be applied to manufactured goods? I mean lets face it - much of the energy use of a car (for instance) is in its manufacture. Would we end up applying largely arbitary tariffs to every single class of imported item?

Normally a carbon tax is just applied to things that literally emit carbon - primarily burning coal, oil and gas (as well as processes like cement production).

Trying to apply the tax to imported goods as well (in order to level the playing field) is much more complex, especially with items made up of parts made in many locations, with varying carbon trading schemes (or none) in place.

It seems that that would be where the pain of a carbon tax would be.

Otherwise the market will just move the manufacture of carbon intensive goods offshore, and then ship them back - with no real carbon change (or even a negative one as goods are shipped back and forth)

On the other side of the coin it may be that reducing the income tax of workers would serve to make manufacturing cheaper here by dropping gross wages.

Maybe you could do a flat tariff on weight, with specific tariffs on say the top 100 imported goods by value.

One of the most interesting examples to look at might be aluminium cans, which have such a high embedded energy value.

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