Britain needs to switch from coal-fired generation to gas-fired plant to help meets its carbon targets, according to an independent think-tank.

A report from the cross-party think-tank Carbon Connect, launched yesterday, says switching from coal to gas or sustainable biomass is the most viable method to help reduce carbon emissions.

To achieve this, the report calls for more incentives to ensure gas fired generation is maintained at current levels – although used “increasingly for backup purposes” – while coal fired plant continue to be closed down.

To ensure the UK gets the investment it requires – in all forms of energy generation – former energy minister Charles Hendry, who co-chaired the inquiry, called for more clarity and consensus between parties on energy policy.

“Uncertainty has far-reaching consequences in a sector where power stations are built and operated by companies, often with international portfolios and investment opportunities,” he said.

Co-chair of the inquiry, Labour peer Baroness Worthington, said there needs to be investment and development in carbon capture and storage, as well as in nuclear and renewable capacity, because “there are risks or prolonged high carbon emissions from both coal and gas power stations.”