Briefing Paper

Nick Mabey and John Mitchell
  • The UK faces the most urgent and challenging energy policy environment of any developed economy, driven by increasing net fossil fuel imports, the need to replace obsolete generation plants and a commitment to deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Securing the electricity supply presents the most immediate challenge for the new coalition government, since about a quarter of generating capacity will probably close by 2020. The gap can be narrowed with strong investment in energy efficiency and longterm low carbon infrastructure. But until uncertainties over policies and timescales are addressed, the utilities will turn to gas instead of lower carbon options.
  • The UK cannot achieve either energy or climate security on its own. Britain's interests and international influence in areas affecting energy supply and access to low carbon technology will be greatly enhanced by helping to build coherent and forceful policies and action by the European Union.
  • The UK must work with the EU, the US and key emerging economies to establish a successful international climate regime. Constant repetition of unmet intentions saps political will. Britain - with the EU - should also prioritize delivering the commitment of the Major Economies Forum to double low carbon RD&D and drive forward international technology partnerships for CCS and energy efficiency.
  • Open markets are critical to the UK's long-term access to energy supplies and low carbon technologies. The UK should use the new 'Europe 2020' process to prioritize full liberalization of EU markets in energy and low carbon technologies, goods and services.

This Briefing Paper forms part of the project on Rethinking the UK's International Ambitions and Choices >>