Energy White Paper reaction

May 23, 2007

Today's Energy White Paper is a huge missed opportunity, Friends of the Earth said today. The environmental campaign group said that it should have set out tougher polices on energy efficiency, renewable power and cleaner transport to make the UK a world leader in developing a low carbon economy. The group also said that the UK can tackle climate change and keep the lights on without building new nuclear power plants.

Friends of the Earth's Energy Campaigner Neil Crumpton said:

"The Government has missed a golden opportunity to make the UK a world leader in developing a safe, clean and low-carbon future. Building new nuclear plants would be a costly, dangerous and ineffective way to cut UK carbon emissions. It would also divert valuable resources from sustainable solutions for tackling climate change. This White Paper should have set out ambitious policies on energy efficiency, renewable power, carbon capture and cleaner systems of transport. Unfortunately Ministers have been taken in by the nuclear lobby yet again."

Friends of the Earth is also calling for the Government to strengthen its planned new climate change law, which will set legally binding targets for cutting UK carbon dioxide emissions. The environment campaign group, which has led the campaign for a new Climate Change Bill through The Big Ask campaign, says that it must include UK international emissions from aviation and shipping, and also ensure that UK emissions are cut by at least three per cent each year (

White Paper

Even if every policy in today's White Paper works according to plan it would only deliver a cut of 14-20% on 1990 levels by 2020. The Government says this cut, combined with other existing policies, would make a cut of around 26-32% by 2020, and then 60% by 2050. But research by the Tyndall Centre has assessed that this falls far short of what is needed and would, if replicated around the world, lead to a 4-5 degree rise in global temperatures.

Friends of the Earth says that the necessary emission reduction targets can be achieved and the lights kept on without building new nuclear power stations [1]. This could be achieved by pushing ahead with energy efficiency programmes, renewable energy and efficient fossil fuel technologies and carbon capture and storage demonstration schemes. The group also wants a moratorium on new centralised gas power stations (CCGTs) until Combined Heat and Power (CHP) construction is back on target, and says that no new coal schemes should be built which do not capture and store their carbon emissions.


1) Friends of the Earth say that the following electricity generating technologies should be prioritised in policy:

  1. Renewables - additional funding to ensure 20% or more of electricity is generated by renewables by 2020

  2. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) - regulatory and fiscal support to ensure at least 20% by 2020 is CHP or 'decentralised' power

  3. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration schemes should receive incentives and preferably be located on large industrial sites with potential for heat usage (eg Teeside Progressive Energy/Centrica IGCC scheme)

  4. CCS equipped centralised power stations (likely to be cleaner coal rather than gas due to high capture costs from gas power stations)

  5. A moratorium on new gas-fired centralised CCGT stations until significant advance on CHP consents and construction (CHP is around 33% more efficient than latest CCGT)

  6. NO new coal stations without CCS fitted as standard (ie NOT 'capture-ready' schemes eg proposed clean coal schemes at Kingsnorth, Tillbury)

  7. NO new nuclear capacity