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New push for UK to meet carbon targets

Secretary of state for energy and climate change Amber Rudd has denied that recent policy changes have undermined UK efforts to meet agreed carbon targets.

However, she has acknowledged that new measures will need to be introduced if the country is to meet targets on renewable energy and carbon emissions.

During a series of energy and climate change questions in the House of Commons, Ms Rudd said that the government needs to put more policies in place in order to meet carbon budgets.

Questions from Labour and SNP MPs revolved around the government's admission that it was currently on track to miss its EU renewable energy target for 2020, as well as its fourth carbon budget target for the mid-2020s.

Ms Rudd called those suggestions "depressing" and said she did not believe the targets would be missed. She confirmed that the government was working to meet all of its legally binding targets, but did not provide details on how those goals would be reached. She also pointed out that concerns about meeting the fourth carbon budget were nothing new - the risk has been known for several years, she explained, adding that measures for meeting it would be announced in the future.

Government schemes scrapped

Back in July, the UK government scrapped the Green Deal Finance Company, a flagship scheme that was supposed to help homeowners install energy-saving measures like thermal wall insulation to their properties.

When the scheme was launched in 2013, it was hailed as "the biggest home improvement programme since the second world war". However, the scheme was dropped after low uptake on the loans it provided. The government also ditched the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. The money from that fund was rapidly exhausted several times, but a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said it did not "do what we wanted".

It is believed that the government will introduce a new plan for meeting the fourth carbon budget before the end of this year - and it is hoped that those policies will support both sustainable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures.

Ms Rudd previously stated that she would not rule out carbon capture and storage as options, adding that the government would continue to support research and development surrounding those technologies. 

Fuel poverty

Ms Rudd also rejected claims from Conservative MPs that renewable energy was actually causing more fuel poverty. The Tory MPs claim that off-shore wind, solar and other sustainable projects were too expensive and would lead to increased energy tariffs. However Ms Rudd argued that renewables were a "British success story", and she also pointed out that they are essential for energy security and decarbonisation.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, confirmed that subsidies to diesel generators will add "a few pounds a year to consumer bills" and said that these carbon intensive plants would only be used occasionally. This caused a flurry of responses from the sustainable energy community.

Solar expert Seb Berry pointed out on Twitter that the cost for the diesel generators would be "under £10" according to Ms Rudd - but noted that a "modest" proposal from the Solar Trade Association would have only cost consumers around £1, was dismissed by the government.