power 'not needed' to hit green targets
FT.com, October 29, 2001
By Cathy Newman, Political Correspondent
Ministers will meet ambitious targets to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions without having to build any more nuclear power
stations, according to a government-backed report.
The Carbon Trust, charged by the prime minister
to persuade business to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, has told the
government's energy review that the targets can be met if power is generated
through other means such as hydrogen, wind and waves.
Ian McAllister, who chairs the trust and is also
chairman of Ford of Britain, said: "Nuclear is a red herring in
this particular debate: you can achieve your low-carbon economy without
nuclear. It's not necessary to meet the targets."
However, an official at British Nuclear Fuels said:
"Without nuclear's contribution this country cannot have a continued,
secure and environmentally friendly energy supply." All but one
of Britain's nuclear power stations - Sizewell B in Suffolk - are to
close by 2023.
Nuclear power plants emit negligible amounts of
carbon dioxide. But since September 11 there have been concerns that
nuclear power stations could be vulnerable to terrorist attack. Ministers
have promised that carbon emissions will be 20 per cent below their
1990 level by 2010. Carbon emissions account for up to 90 per cent of
The review of how to meet energy demands over the
next 50 years is being undertaken by Downing Street's performance and
innovation unit, and will be completed by the end of this year.
It is chaired by Brian Wilson, energy minister -
an advocate of nuclear power whose constituency, Cunninghame North,
includes the Hunterston plant. In its June manifesto Labour shelved
a pledge not to build nuclear stations. However, the evidence from the
Carbon Trust, set up by the government, will carry weight.
The Carbon Trust submission to the unit says there
must be a "clear and unambiguous political commitment beyond the
lifetime of individual ministers and governments". Mr McAllister
said tax breaks existed to persuade companies to become more energy
efficient, but that "there may need to be more" incentives
offered by the Treasury.
Apart from using hydrogen or renewables such as
the wind or waves to generate power, carbon emissions can also be reduced
by using energy more efficiently and growing more trees to absorb carbon
The UK's own emissions target goes beyond the Kyoto
protocol, which promised that by 2012 greenhouse gas emissions would
be 12.5 per cent lower than in 1990.
The unit estimates that half the UK's energy needs
would by 2020 be met by gas, with 6 per cent coming from coal, 4 per
cent from renewables and 3 per cent from nuclear power.