Het ziet er naar uit dat de Britse regering toch het groene licht zal geven voor grootschalige exploitatie van schaliegas. De vermoedelijke voorraden in Britse bodem zijn groot en het prijsverschil met andere vormen van energie is aantrekkelijk. De Britse economie kan een zodanige opkikker goed gebruiken.
De groenen zijn niet blij. Had deze regering niet beloofd de groenste ooit te worden? De regering tracht dan ook de betekenis van de ommezwaai van haar energiebeleid te bagatelliseren. Maar de decarboniseringsambities lijken naar de achtergrond te verdwijnen. Het gezond verstand keert terug.
Onder de titel, 'Does the Government still care about its climate change targets?' rapporteert Robin Webster op 'The Carbon Brief' daarover het volgende:
The Friday evening press release is often a good sign an organisation is attempting to bury bad news away from the attention of newspapers, as it is designed to fall in the dead spot already filled by Sunday supplements. So when DECC unexpectedly announced new developments on gas policy in the middle of the night last Friday, it's perhaps unsurprising that many green-leaning commentators were sure it was up to no good.
The announcement was aimed at reassuring energy companies that new gas plant constructed now will be able to keep operating for another three decades - without carbon capture and storage technologies being fitted to reduce their emissions. DECC says this is designed to maintain security of energy supply to the UK.
But others are worried: Greenpeace labelled it ' craven submission' to the Treasury and "easily their most significant environmental decision since the coalition took power." WWF called it a "Treasury coup" of UK energy policy, while Richard Black for the BBC suggested that the announcement should be subtitled "Abandon hope" on UK climate change targets.
DECC however responded late yesterday that "...Friday's announcement does not signal a change in policy direction.... Everything we are doing, including on gas, is consistent with meeting our carbon budgets and 2050 goals".
So what's going on? Massive retreat or minor adjustment?
We're talking here about the somewhat technical world of emissions performance standards (EPS) - limits on carbon emissions which will apply to power stations. For some time, DECC has proposed to set an emissions limit for new power stations of 450g/kWh - that is, 450g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour of power generated. This rules out coal plants, which emit 800g/kWh. Gas plants are cleaner, and an EPS at this level will allow new gas plants to be built without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology - which sequesters carbon emissions instead of allowing them to be released into the atmosphere.
This sounds like good news for the gas industry, because CCS doesn't exist yet at the scale necessary to fit an entire fleet of gas plants. But we knew about the 450g/kWh limit already. The key change contained in DECC's elusive midnight press release is: Power stations consented under the 450g/kWh-based level would then be subject to that level until 2045, a process called 'grandfathering' which provides long-term certainty to gas investors. In other words, a gas power plant constructed now will be able to continue emitting carbon at the same level for the next 30 years or so. The EPS applying to those plants will not be tightened over time in order to reduce emissions, which seems at odds with the Committee on Climate Change's recommendation to rapidly reduce emissions from the power sector as a whole.
Lees verder hier.
De honden blaffen, maar de karavaan trekt verder.