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Decarbonisation target row intensifies

Calls for the inclusion of a decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill have intensified after Labour and the Green Party tabled amendments at the second reading of the Bill.

Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint were among those supporting reasoned amendments to prevent a second reading of the Energy Bill on Wednesday because of its omission of a target to decarbonise the power sector by 2030.

The House of Commons voted against the amendment but the move signalled the escalation of the debate which is likely to follow the Bill as it receives more detailed examination next year.

During the debate Flint said: “We know, this is very positive, that there is money out there to be invested in renewable energy, but unlocking it requires clear signals about the long-term direction of public policy.

“What the Bill needed was a commitment to decarbonise the power sector by 2030, because that is not only the most cost-effective way to meet our climate obligations, but the best way to protect our economy and consumers from volatile international gas prices and to attract long-term investment in new jobs and industries.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas accused the government of trying to enshrine a “dash for gas”. She said: “Organisations from the CBI to the International Energy Agency say that that will not reduce fuel bills, whereas much greater investment in renewables and efficiency certainly would.”

Energy secretary Ed Davey said he predicted “many debates and exchanges” about a decarbonisation target as the Bill progressed. But he added: “We will no doubt hear that industry would benefit from such a target, and I strongly sympathise with that argument, yet industry would be seriously damaged if we were not to take forward our wider reforms of the electricity market.”

The comments from Labour and the Green Party add to the backbench rebellion against the omission of the target in the Bill, led by Tory MP Tim Yeo who is chairman of the energy and climate change select committee, which emerged earlier this week.

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