Monday, 27 April 2009


I've been reflecting on Ed Miliband's declaration that no new coal power stations will be authorised in Britain unless they include an element of carbon capture technology.

The climate change secretary didn't go far enough, of course, and ideally we should not be permitting any new coal fired generation, but credit where credit is due; it puts the UK at the fore of CCS development and will have a significant impact on thinking in the boardrooms of power companies.

Almost unnoticed by the media was Miliband's call for consultation on the idea of introducing emissions performance standards, limiting the amount of CO2 that can be released by any power plant, coal or gas.

In the long run the engine of CCS should be driven forward by the market, with generating companies seeking to avoid paying the cost of carbon allowances, but the technology will initially be very expensive and must be hand cranked, first through financial subsidy to get demonstration plants built, and then by regulatory requirements - such as emission performance standards.

The need for this approach has not yet been publicly recognised, and the UK government opposed the proposals for such standards I tabled last year. That Miliband is prepared to think afresh is bold and brave. Good for him!

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