Coalition environment policy overview (15 mark plans)

Nuclear
-The coalition agreement reached a compromise on Nuclear power that there would be no new power stations subsidised by taxpayers however the government has spent £68bn dealing with old nuclear reactors
-Coalition had planned for 8 new plants to open over its tenure in government however energy companies such as EDF are looking for more assurance from the government in the face of now public subsidies
-Nuclear counts as a low carbon energy so helps the coalition reach its targets but pressure groups such as boycottEDF are concerned about the impact of waste disposal combined with the economic cost of decommissioning which can cost £48bn

Renewables
-Clear division between the coalition partners here as the Lib Dems support wind power and other renewable energy sources whereas the conservatives traditionally want to ‘protect the countryside’. Ed Davey  slapped down his new Conservative minister of state for claiming that no more onshore windfarms need be built in Britain.
-The coalition agreement is in favour of renewable energy and the Energy Act 2011 introduced a 30% renewables by 2020 target. However Osborne and other conservative support the gas approach through shale gas and he is pushing for gas to be the focus of the future ‘dash for gas’
-The coalition is preparing to reject EU proposals to update the 2020 target, this may alienate renewable energy investors. The Climate Change Committee created after the Climate Change Act 08 has warned that there needs to more investment in renewables and low carbon energy for long term betterment
-The government has tried to incentivise the development of green technologies through schemes such as the climate change levy

Emissions
-Between 1990 and 2010 the UK cut Co2 emissions by 20% compared to the EU average of 15.4% but this is because a huge chunk of our manufacture has moved abroad so in effect we are passing on our emissions to other countries e.g. Dyson recently moved its manufacturing to Asia
-The feed in tariff scheme was meant to help keep companies and public bodies using clean energy and keeping emissions down. The coalition scrapped part of the scheme which covers solar panels as European speculators were looking to take a large chunk of the funding to establish huge solar farms in the West Country many companies were mid way through the project and so had to get rid of staff and lost money as a result

International
-Kyoto protocol entered into force in 2005 was signed by 190 countries, the US signed but did not ratify. It set limits on emissions but only the EU and Japan have really stuck to them. The treaty was negotiated in 1997, but in 2006, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions had grown by 24%. The World Bank criticises it for not having enough financial support and for having little impact
-Copenhagen Accord 2009 saw a promise to develop plans to limit the increase in global temperatures to 2 degrees
-EU legislation has set targets for 80-95% cut of emissions by 2050
-The Rio Summit 2012 was seen as hugely unsuccessful in coming to any binding conclusions on environmental issues. Leaders such as Cameron, Obama and Merkel did not even attend instead sending other people in their executives which just adds to the low profile image of the issue

Shale Gas
-Reports say Shale Gas could be worth 4bn in investment to the economy and 70,000 jobs. With predictions that 76% of UK gas would be exported by 2030 there is a demand for the UK to make use of its own gas reserves for self-sufficiency. Shale gas could reduce that figure to 37%.
-Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth are concerned about the environmental damage caused by the fracking process, Britain’s only fracking operation, by Cuadrilla Resources in Lancashire, was suspended after two minor earthquakes at its site in 2011, although it was allowed to resume last December.
-Fits into Osborne agenda of ‘dash for gas’ he doesn’t want to appear to be letting the environment come ahead of the economy, has put him at loggerheads with coalition partner and in particular Ed Davey.

Transport
-Transport policy affects the environment too. The plans for an 80mph speed limit on the motorway instead of 70mph. Plans were scrapped after concerns about accidents and environmentalists were hugely against the plans because cars are far less fuel efficient at the higher speed.
-Airport expansion, the conservatives pledged there would be no third runway during their time in government. With Heathrow running at full capacity plans for Boris Island Thames Estuary seem possible and there is growing support from within the Conservative party for it, they see it as a way to increase employment and lead to better business links
-The HS2 rail plans also have an impact on the environment with groups such as the Wildlife Trust concerned about the impact on local wildlife with more than 350 wildlife sites under threat from HS2. The coalition argue that it will mean less people driving and making domestic flights

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