In its latest annual assessment titled ‘Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliament’, the Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) has set out four key messages to Government based on lessons learnt in the ten years since the foundation of the Climate Change Act.
Overall, UK emissions are down 43% compared to the 1990 baseline while the economy has grown significantly over the same period. However, most of this is down to significant progress in reducing emissions from electricity generation, while reductions in other sectors have stalled.
To meet future carbon budgets and the 80% target for 2050, the UK will need to reduce emissions by at least 3% a year from now on. This will require the government to apply more challenging measures.
The CCC’s new CEO, Chris Stark, attended the latest IET Energy Policy Panel meeting at IET London: Savoy Place, where he held a discussion with panel members on the four key messages, which are as follows:
Low-cost, low-risk options to reduce emissions are not being supported by Government. This penalises the consumer. There is no route to market for cheap onshore wind; withdrawal of incentives has cut home insulation installations to 5% of their 2012 level; woodland creation falls short of stated Government ambition in every part of the UK. Worries over the short-term cost of these options are misguided. The whole economy cost of meeting the legally-binding targets will be higher without cost-effective measures in every sector.
Tougher long-term standards - for construction and vehicle emissions, for example - can cut emissions, while driving consumer demand, innovation and cost reduction. Providing long line of sight to new regulation also reduces the overall economic costs of compliance. Regulations must also be enforced to be effective - the consumer is cheated when their car’s fuel consumption and real emissions exceed the quoted test-cycle numbers; or when higher energy bills are locked-in for generations when stated building standards are not enforced.
A number of important programmes have been cancelled in recent years at short notice, including Zero Carbon Homes and the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Commercialisation Programme. This has led to uncertainty, which carries a real cost. A consistent policy environment keeps investor risk low, reduces the cost of capital, provides clear signals to the consumer and gives businesses the confidence to build UK-based supply chains.
An 80% reduction in emissions has always implied the need for new national infrastructure – to transport and store CO2 for example, or to provide decarbonised heat. The deeper emissions reductions implied by the Paris Agreement make these developments even more important. We cannot yet define the 2050 systems for carbon capture, zero-carbon transport, hydrogen or electrification of heat, but the Government must now demonstrate it is serious about their future deployment. Key technologies should be pulled through to bring down costs and support the growth of the low-carbon goods and services sector.
“The IET Energy Policy Panel welcomes the CCC’s annual assessment as a positive and hard-hitting report which goes further than electricity and considers a whole systems approach to energy. The recommendations are a clear message to Government that action is needed now if the UK is to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets,” said IET Energy Lead James Robottom. “The IET will continue to monitor the progress of these recommendations and continue to engage with Government to inform and influence the Clean Growth Strategy.”
The Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) is an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. Its purpose is to advise the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on emissions targets and report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change.
The full report can be downloaded from the Committee on Climate Change website.