There is a £200 billion "carbon bombshell"
lurking at the heart of Labour's election manifesto
according to today's Daily Telegraph. Its
promise to decarbonise the power sector by 2030 could "wreak havoc
with the UK's finances", according to a
second article in the same paper.
The stories centre on Labour's
manifesto promise to set a decarbonisation
target for UK electricity, in line with the
recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change
(CCC). Labour would mandate a reduction from the 450 grammes
of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt hour of electricity
generated today, to between 50 and 100 grammes in 2030.
The Telegraph analysis rests on a series of
shaky assumptions. More significantly, however, it is flawed
because it ignores the cost of the alternatives. Carbon Brief takes
you through the details.
The Telegraph says its £200 billion figure for the cost of a
decarbonisation target is based on "educated guesses at best". Here
are some of the trivially incorrect assumptions it makes.
The Telegraph says wholesale electricity prices
will rise from around £40 per megawatt hour today to £55 in 2030.
The paper does not explain how it arrived at this figure.
DECC's central projection is £73, which
would make top-up subsidies for low-carbon energy sources
National Grid scenarios cover a range of £50
to £100 per megawatt hour in 2030. Future prices are
Next, the Telegraph assumes that Labour aim for
zero-carbon electricity in 2030 because its manifesto talks of
"removing carbon" from electricity supplies. However, on a BBC
Daily Politics debate on 20 April Caroline Flint, Labour's energy
and climate change shadow, said the target would be in line with
CCC advice. This would aim for 50-100gCO2 per megawatt
The Telegraph then assumes, without offering any
justification, that half of the UK's zero-carbon power in 2030
would be nuclear, up from
19% last year. It estimates the cost as the
same as for building a
new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C in
Somerset. The government says new nuclear plants will become
cheaper through the 2020s, though nuclear has a
poor record on cost.