Climate change policies ‘not to blame’ for high energy bills

By Alex Stevenson

Efforts to tackle climate change are not responsible for increased energy prices, government advisers have insisted.

The committee on climate change conducted its first analysis of the cost of meeting carbon budgets on household energy bills in a bid to address concerns around the financial cost of switching to renewable energy.

"We were keen to provide a dispassionate analysis of household bill impacts in what has become a politically controversial area," committee chair Adair Turner said.

"We found that bills have increased primarily in response to increased wholesale gas costs and not due to environmental policies."

Between 2004 and 2010 energy bills increased from around £605 to £1,060 per household. Only 16% of this increase was due to policies which reduce carbon emissions, the research found.

Over the next decade energy prices are set to increase by £110 as a result of carbon budget measures – but the committee said it hopes that greater energy efficiency could offset the increases.

Lord Turner added: "If we introduce new polices to stimulate energy efficiency improvement then bills in 2020 could broadly be contained at current levels."

The report comes as policymakers continue to digest the conclusions from the Durban summit on climate change which concluded last weekend.

Writing for, Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said British ministers needed to push EU officials to agree to cutting emissions by 40% by 2020.

"Here in the UK, through our Final Demand campaign for energy we can all afford, Friends of the Earth is already calling for the government to tackle the power and influence of the Big Six energy firms that are keeping us hooked on fossil fuels," he wrote.

"Tackling climate change means bold, long-term decision making from our politicians. Now is the time for them to rise to the challenge."