* PM wants UK to be most energy-efficient country in Europe
* Various existing green policies have been criticised
By Nina Chestney
LONDON, Feb 4 Britain needs a single coherent
strategy to become the most energy-efficient country in Europe,
Prime Minister David Cameron said in one of his strongest
speeches on the value of a low-carbon economy on Monday.
Cameron spoke at the launch of a new programme to accelerate
the deployment of energy-saving measures and get the most out of
the many existing government policies to improve energy use.
Since taking over in 2010, the coalition government has
introduced a range of policies to help spur clean energy
investment, boost efficiency and help British people and
businesses lower their energy bills, some of which have been
criticised for overlapping or falling short.
The Prime Minister said on Monday he wanted "one coherent
strategy" to make Britain energy efficient.
"In the global race, the economies in Europe which will
prosper are those which are the most energy efficient," Cameron
"We can't afford not to prioritise green growth right now."
Manufacturers' trade body EEF said the government needed to
provide a supporting framework for industry.
"The current policy approach is not delivering the desired
results. There are signs that the UK is faltering, losing out to
China, the United States and other economies that are
experiencing rapid growth in this sector," said Gareth Stace,
EEF's head of climate and environment policy.
British energy consumption is forecast to rise by a third
over the next 20 years, adding to greenhouse gas emissions and
burdening the economy if nothing is done to control energy use.
The government has said Britain could save 196 terrawatt
hours in 2020, equivalent to 22 power stations, through
investment in energy efficiency, which would also reduce carbon
emissions by 41 million tonnes.
With the global low-carbon energy sector set to grow to a
value of $4 trillion by 2015, the government also sees
opportunities for job growth and boosting the economy.
Research by the Confederation of British Industry last year
showed the right low-carbon policies could add 20 billion
pounds($31.5 billion) to Britain's GDP by 2015.
One of the government's newest policies is the so-called
Green Deal, which started last month and permits loans to
homeowners to help them pay for efficiency measures such as loft
insulation, modern boilers, draught proofing and other
The scheme has been criticised, however, for high interest
rates underpinning it, the slow uptake of loans and fears that
it will increase fuel poverty.
The Prime Minister conceded the scheme had made a "modest
start" and said it would take time to build.
"This deal will cut carbon, cut bills and put people back in
work," he said.