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Ed Milliband, Secretary for Climate Change, has unveiled the UK government’s comprehensive plan for cutting GHG emissions and heralding in a new era of renewable energy in Great Britain. The measures will affect most areas of UK society, from home energy use to power generation, and from electric cars to high-speed rail — all in an effort to cut UK emissions by 34 percent by 2020. In fact, every government department will be required to present carbon and financial budgets in tandem.

Milliband contends that this plan will create 1.2 million green sector jobs. He’s rare among politicians in suggesting that electrical rates will rise slightly over the mid-term during the transition, but adds that the government will help consumers and small businesses cut energy usage, and offer tax credits to the nation’s poorest. It will offer pay-as-you-save plans for home renovations, and feed-in tariffs (called clean energy cash-back) for micro-generation.

The government’s white paper on energy and climate, called the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, suggests that half of the proposed carbon cuts to 2020 would come from changes to the power sector, 15 percent from energy efficiency, 10 percent from workplace improvements, 20 percent from transportation, and 5 percent from agriculture and land use.

“The proposals published today are the first time we have set out a comprehensive plan for carbon across every sector — energy, homes, transport, agriculture and business,” said Miliband. “Our transition plan is a route map to 2020. It strengthens our energy security, it seeks to be fair in the decisions we make, above all it rises to the moral challenge of climate change.”

Other notable measures include:

  • Up to £6 million ($9.8 million) to start development of a smart grid, including a policy road map next year.
  • Launch of the new Office for Renewable Energy Deployment as part of Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to speed the growth of renewables in the UK.
  • DECC to take direct responsibility from Ofgem for establishing a new grid access regime within 12 months.
  • Up to £180 million ($294 million) to promote wind and tidal power — including establishing a low-carbon economic area in the south-west to promote marine technologies, and funding to guarantee that 3,000 wind turbines will be installed off UK’s shores by 2020.
  • £15 million ($24.9 million) to establish a Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre for next-generation nuclear power plants.
  • £10 million ($16.3 million) to improving EV charging infrastructure
  • Challenging 15 villages, towns or cities to be test-beds for future green initiatives.

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    Editor’s Note: OK, so there’s lots here to like and dislike. On one hand, Milliband is protecting the aviation industry above all others for reasons that I can’t quite fathom, and I doubt that carbon capture will cut UK emissions before 2030. I don’t think these measures will get their emissions anywhere near where they need to be.

    But it’s a start, and I can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Even conservatives should realize that we’re very close to peak oil — if not already past it — and that bubbling crude, Texas tea, is going to get very expensive in short order as we enter a period of terminal decline. I think oil prices will hit triple digits again by 2011, at the latest, and then what will people in North America do when gas hits $5 a gallon (or $1.75 a liter)?

    Compare this with Canada’s plan, as defined by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

    Oh right, we don’t even think there is a problem.

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