Tory backbenchers rally PM to support fifth carbon budget

Twenty backbench Conservative MPs have written to Prime Minister David Cameron, calling on him to support the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) fifth carbon budget.

The CCC published its fifth carbon budget last November, setting out advice on how the government can meet interim emissions targets for 2028-2032 on its way to cutting out 80% of emissions by 2050.

That budget called for multiple gigawatts of solar PV to be deployed to help decarbonise both the power and C&I sectors, and warned that even more ambitious solar deployment would be required if carbon capture and storage technology was delayed.

The report’s ‘max’ scenario included scope for as much as 40GW of solar by 2030 – roughly four times current levels.

The government is due to legislate for the fourth carbon budget before the summer recess begins on 21 July and the fifth budget before the end of the year. However last week the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee ratcheted up the pressure on the government to accept the CCC’s recommendations, warning that it would face scrutiny if it failed to do so.

The letter has heaped yet more pressure on the prime minister to comply, arguing that the “shift to low carbon technology” across various sectors is “accelerating again” in the wake of the COP21 summit in Paris.

“The UK played a pivotal role in the agreement and we now need to make sure that we attract the greatest possible investment in UK low and zero carbon infrastructure with the supply chain and employment benefits this can bring.

“The CCC’s advice is tailored to our meeting our carbon obligations at the lowest possible cost and with the highest ancillary gains. Early and full acceptance of that advice will give investors and government the confidence to act and so maintain this government’s proud record of lower emissions combined with sustained economic growth,” the letter stated.

Signees of the letter includes the likes of David Warburton, the MP for Somerton and Froome who spoke out in support of UK solar prior to the feed-in tariff cuts last year, and select committee members Dr Daniel Poulter, James Heappey and Antoinette Sandbach.

Fellow Conservative select committee members Glyn Davies and Julian Study have not signed the letter.

Cameron has yet to explicitly comment on the CCC reports, but has been drawn onto the subject of decarbonisation during Prime Minister’s Questions. In January Cameron said the UK had a “genuine claim” to be leading the global renewables revolution, but stressed the need to curb expenditure at the same time.

“It is right that we seek a balance between decarbonising our economy and making sure we do it at a low cost to our consumers and the people who pay the bills. That is what our policy is all about,” he said.