25 February 2010 – A cross-party bid to restrict carbon dioxide emissions from new power stations has narrowly failed in the UK House of Commons.
The Associated Press reported that Labour backbenchers joined with Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in calling for an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) for every new electricity generating plant, which would allow the government to limit emissions from coal and gas plants by forcing them to install CCS systems, or even reduce how many hours they operate.
But the move was defeated by 252 votes to 244 – slashing the Government’s 57-strong majority to just eight.
The vote came after Energy Minister Joan Ruddock warned it would “significantly undermine” plans to tackle climate change. More than a dozen Labour MPs had put their names to an Energy Bill amendment requiring the change.
Energy companies lobbied against the amendment, arguing that any emissions standards would undermine the case for investment in new coal fired power plants, potentially leaving the UK facing energy shortages.
Spearheading the demand, MP Alan Simpson said all new coal-fired power stations should be expected to set an EPS. “I want to see a Parliament that is unafraid to do some bullying; I just want Parliament to bully the big guys in the playground who terrorize the lives of ordinary citizens and energy consumers,” he said.
Ms Ruddock said the restriction would deter private companies from investing in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, preventing the development of “clean coal” power.
“No new coal power stations puts at risk the whole demonstration of CCS in the UK. Does that matter? We think it does,” she said. “CCS has the potential to play a critical role globally in tackling climate change. It matters because fossil fuel plays a vital role in our energy mix and CCS is the only technology that will allow them to continue in a low carbon future.”
The Bill introduces a CCS incentive to support the construction of up to four UK projects, to be chosen in a competition.