is around half the total infrastructure investment planned for the UK economy over the next few years, the equivalent of 20 Olympic stadiums being built every year. It has a vital role in helping to get the economy back on track.
It is no secret that there have been tough negotiations over the past few months to get agreement – notably for the tripling of support to low carbon investment to £7.6 billion by 2020 which we need to ensure that we meet our 2020 renewable target. Also we would have liked to have been setting a decarbonisation target range for the power sector in 2030 now rather than when the 5th carbon budget is set in 2016. But securing a power in the Energy Bill to set this target range is a significant success in the face of opposition from some Conservatives. Of course it would have been better for supply chain investors to have legislative backing for our decarbonisation ambition as far ahead as 2030. But let’s not forget that setting this target in 2016 will give 14 years notice, more than was given for meeting the 2020 renewables target.
I know from my constituents how many are struggling to meet rocketing energy bills. The main cause of this increase is the rising price of wholesale gas. That is why shifting to low carbon energy is important so that in the medium and long run consumers will pay less. But in the short term it is important that consumers can get the cheapest tariff for them. That is why I will be legislating to simplify the over complicated tariff structure and make switching, both individual and collective, easier for bill payers.
But it is important that we do not focus just on electricity generation. We know that the most cost effective way to reduce bills and carbon emissions is to reduce energy consumption. So today we are launching a consultation on how we can best reduce electricity demand, in addition to the measures which we are already taking through the innovative Green Deal.
Liberal Democrats are proud of our reputation as the party which is most concerned about the environment – that is why I first joined the Liberal Democrats. Now through the Energy Bill we can put our policies into practice.
* Ed Davey was the MP for Kingston and Surbiton and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.