Britain has some big decisions to make on energy, and environmentalists say the answers that politicians come up with in the next few months will determine whether the country follows through on its promises of strong action against global warming.
A series of important questions about investment in renewable energy, efficiency and nuclear generation are up for discussion as the government and energy companies plan how to replace a generation of power plants that are nearing retirement.
Britain put itself out in front of the effort to slow climate change by legally binding itself to strict carbon reduction targets in the Climate Change Act, passed in 2008 with support from all three major political parties.
Prime Minister David Cameron took office last year promising to lead the “greenest government ever.” Still, with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition giving priority to budget cuts and the economy flat-lining, the powerful Treasury department appears unenthusiastic. George Osborne, who as chancellor of the Exchequer, or finance minister, controls the country’s purse strings, has hinted that he sees aggressive carbon-cutting as a luxury that Britain may not now be able to afford.