The Coalition government in the UK has recalibrated the country's energy and climate change policy for the long term, supported for the first time by comprehensive analysis of plausible pathways to a secure, low carbon energy system in 2050.
At the Annual Energy Statement to Parliament, the government has set out 32 actions being taken to accelerate the transformation of the energy system and wider economy under the new policy for low carbon future.
The four key areas included in the 32 actions are: saving energy through the Green Deal and supporting vulnerable consumers; delivering secure energy on the way to a low carbon energy future; managing our energy legacy responsibly and cost-effectively; and driving ambitious action on climate change at home and abroad.
The comprehensive '2050' analysis, including six illustrative 'pathways' shows that meeting the target of an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050 is ambitious but achievable, and compatible with maintaining security of energy supplies.
The analysis also revealed that a do-nothing 'reference' scenario highlights the risks of a high carbon future.
The government has introduced an online '2050 Calculator' that enables the public to explore the trade-offs inherent in designing the future secure, low carbon energy system and wider economy.
Chris Huhne, secretary of Energy and Climate Change, UK, said: "The challenge is ambitious but achievable. We're already on track to cut the UK's emissions by 34 per cent by 2020, and will do more if we can win the case for greater ambition across the whole EU. But our line of sight needs to extend much further, through to the middle of the century.
"The six pathways described today are only illustrative, but they highlight the scale and urgency of the task.
"Choosing the high carbon alternative would be high risk. It would lock in exposure to volatile oil prices, declining global reserves and rapidly increasing global energy demand. We'd risk having a dead end economy lagging behind those with the foresight to grab a share of growth in green industries."