Our Ideas Updates

Updated Dec 2014

Energy & Climate Change

We believe

the energy market is broken and it is not providing a good deal for consumers

A root cause of the problem is that the market was not designed to be low or zero carbon, which is necessary to address the challenge of climate change. In addition, the market was not designed to accommodate new technologies, such as renewable and digital technologies.

The failings of the energy market are demonstrated by the lack of competition between energy companies, which has led to bills being higher than necessary.

READ MORE: A new approach to electricity markets: How new, disruptive technologies change everything

We believe

Britain's cities should be empowered to create cleaner, smarter and more affordable energy systems in their areas, providing an alternative to the big utilities and boosting local economies

READ MORE: City energy: A new powerhouse for Britain

The UK needs to reimagine who generates electricity and how. Some renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels, are well suited to generation at the level of community groups and individual households, which is why we support funding to help communities invest in such technologies.

Adopted by Coalition government, Nov 2011

There is no justifiable reason for the 5 per cent profit margins that energy companies enjoy. High and rising energy bills put a squeeze on the living standards of all households and exacerbate the rising problem of fuel poverty.

We believe

the government must do more to help billpayers by addressing the problem of rising energy bills through measures such as simplifying energy tariffs

Adopted by Coalition government, Feb 2013

We believe

improved Green Deal loans could have a transformative impact on energy bills, by encouraging households to install energy efficiency measures

The current Green Deal is failing because it doesn’t actually reduce people’s bills.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) energy efficiency policy is also flawed because 80 per cent of the funds intended for low-income households actually go to households that are not fuel-poor and it extends the dominance of the biggest energy suppliers.

Our proposal is for

Help to Heat, an alternative scheme delivered in local areas, designed to accurately target fuel-poor households through the provision of free energy efficient assessments

Endorsed by Labour, Sep 2014

READ MORE: Help to heat: A solution to the affordability crisis in energy

We believe

renewable energy technologies, such as wind power, are demonstrably effective and they have a crucial role to play

READ MORE: Beyond the bluster: Why wind power is an effective technology

In order to ensure energy supply is affordable and secure, we must support a diverse energy mix.

We believe

there is an important role for nuclear power and, in the short to medium term, gas in the UK energy mix

While we believe the benefits are likely to be modest, we support fracking for natural gas where there is no local opposition and environmental concerns are addressed.

READ MORE: Will Straw: 'We need to frack, but we need wind power too'

To support the move to a low-carbon energy mix, it is vital that the government provides long-term clarity and certainty on its energy policies.

As part of this, we believe

a domestic target should be set to decarbonise the energy sector by 2030

This is a cheaper route than doing nothing.

Endorsed by Labour, Nov 2012

Endorsed by the Liberal Democrats, Sep 2014

We also believe that the government needs to provide long-term certainty to the offshore wind industry, if the jobs and growth potential from this industry are to stay in the UK.

READ MORE: Pump up the volume: Bringing down costs and increasing jobs in the offshore wind sector

Another valuable industrial opportunity lies in low-carbon transport. To ensure that the UK retains its hard-earned competitive advantage in the automotive industry, a thriving market in ultra-low-emission vehicles (ULEVs) is essential.

We argue that

the purchase and use of these vehicles should be actively encouraged – with government taking the lead

Supported by Coalition government, Apr 2014

READ MORE: Leading the charge: Can Britain develop a global advantage in ultra-low emission vehicles?

UK policies on energy and climate change will be more effective if they are developed in cooperation with other European states.

We believe

strong and binding new 2030 targets are needed to provide investors and the international community with clarity over the direction of European climate and energy strategy

Partially adopted by the European Commission, Oct 2014

READ MORE: Europe’s power: Re-energising a progressive climate and energy agenda

Cooperating on energy markets is a cheaper and more efficient approach than pushing ahead unilaterally.

To sustain a secure supply of energy, it is important to

increase interconnections between the UK and Europe and to support the European common market for energy, which Britain is a part of

READ MORE: Running on empty? Why the UK needs Europe for affordable and secure energy

Crucially, this must happen in the context of an ambitious international deal on emissions.

A 2030 target of 50% reductions from 1990 levels is in line with the UK government's legal obligation to meet 2050 targets, which are designed to keep global temperature increases under 2 degrees.

As part of this Europe-wide commitment, we propose

reforms to the European carbon trading scheme (the ETS) that ensure carbon is priced appropriately

READ MORE: Up in smoke: How the EU's faltering climate policy is undermining the City of London

In terms of the UK's own climate change initiatives, the carbon price floor is an ineffective tool.

We believe

the carbon price floor is badly designed and unfeasible in the long term

By continually raising the wholesale cost of high-carbon energy, the price floor places additional burden on the billpayer, rather than effectively incentivising low-carbon forms of generation.

Endorsed by Coalition government, March 2014

READ MORE: Hot Air: The carbon price floor in the UK

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