Government's infrastructure pipeline reveals high carbon energy investment overtakes low carbon energy for the first time

Monday 8 December 2014
Government's infrastructure pipeline reveals high carbon energy investment overtakes low carbon energy for the first time
Analysis by Green Alliance[1] of the UK’s infrastructure pipeline[2], updated this month by the Treasury, indicates that for the first time fossil fuel projects are expected to exceed that of low-carbon energy, in the current financial year 2014-15. 

Since a detailed pipeline was first released in 2012, expected spending on fossil fuel energy infrastructure has been revised up from 8 per cent to 61 per cent (£2.2 billion to £15.2 billion) of all energy infrastructure in 2014-15. At the same time anticipated spending on low carbon energy has been revised down from 92 per cent to 39 per cent (£24.9 billion to £9.8 billion) in 2014-15.

Despite the accompanying National Infrastructure Plan setting out its objectives as including to “reduce carbon emissions in order to mitigate climate change and meet its legally binding targets”, expected investment in high carbon infrastructure is growing in transport as well as energy. 

Looking further ahead in the pipeline, for the period 2015-20, it is expected that the majority of investment in energy projects will remain low carbon, although the share devoted to fossil fuels has been revised up significantly from ten per to 33 per cent in 2015-2020. 

Findings from Green Alliance’s analysis include:
·    Planned spending on renewables has been revised down by £11.3 billion in 2014-15 and £9.3 billion in 2015-20.
·    Between 2010 and 2015 investment in the UK Continental Shelf  is expected to rise as fast as it did when the UK first began to drill for oil and gas in the 1970s
·    Spending on roads has been revised up from £4bn to £5.1 billion in 2014-15 and from £1.6 billion to £32.7 billion in 2015-20
·    Investment in public transport has been revised up from £10.3bn to £11bn in 2014-15 and from £18.3 billion to £57.0 billion in 2015-20. 
·    Overall the share of expected transport infrastructure spending devoted to roads and airports has been marked up from 28 per cent to 31 per cent in 2014-15 and from eight per cent to 36 per cent in 2015-20

Responding to this analysis, Matthew Spencer, director at Green Alliance, said:

"The UK has led the way in taking a long term approach to decarbonisation. It now appears that a series of short term tactical decisions to promote road building, demote renewables and to offer tax breaks for oil and gas extraction have reversed what was a very encouraging picture for UK infrastructure.

"It means the government’s infrastructure plan is likely to lock in greater fossil fuel dependency in our economy and narrow the UK’s options for halving its carbon emissions by the middle of the next decade.

"It shouldn’t be a surprise, but these stark figures show that you can’t focus on oil extraction and road building and expect to deliver a cleaner, leaner economy."

Our analysis can be found here.

Notes to editors
[1] Further information is available in the Green Alliance briefing Revised low carbon investment in the Treasury’s infrastructure pipeline produced by chief economist Julian Morgan 

 [2] HM Treasury publishes a list of pipeline infrastructure investments alongside its National Infrastructure Plan to provide a strategic overview of the large infrastructure investments planned by the private and public sectors

To speak to Matthew Spencer or Julian Morgan please contact:
Alastair Harper

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