The UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) yesterday urged that Government funding for low-carbon technology research, development and deployment should be protected.
The independent advisory committee warns that without Government support, new low-carbon technologies essential for the UK to meets its target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 will not be met.
If current funding levels of around £550 million a year are reduced and commitments to carbon capture and storage (CCS) or electric vehicles lapse, the UK risks missing out on the opportunity to build a green economy, says the CCC report.
“The case for action is strong,” says committee member Julia King, vice-chancellor of Aston University. “With adequate funding, new policies and strengthened delivery arrangements, we would expect UK firms to take leading roles in the development of key technologies, driving down emissions… and fulfilling the new Government’s objective to build a low-carbon economy.”
However, the report to the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Sir John Beddington, warns that inadequate funding – even in these difficult economic times – could leave new technologies floundering and failing to reach market.
The Committee recommends that the new Government should focus efforts on six key technologies – offshore wind, which is likely to provide the cheapest means of decarbonising the UK’s electricity supply, marine energy, where UK companies have world-leading expertise, CCS, smart grids and meters, electric vehicles and advanced aviation technology.
The UK should also move ahead with the deployment of nuclear power, advanced insulation and heat pumps, while investing in R&D for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, third generation photovoltaics and advanced biofuels.
The report has been welcomed across the board from industry and environmental groups.
Tom Foulkes of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) comments:
“We recognise cuts have to be made… however, it is even more important in these cash-strapped times that Government provides the right regulatory frameworks to encourage private investment into infrastructure projects. Low carbon technologies in particular need to be developed with urgency.”
Simon Bullock, Friends of the Earth’s senior economic campaigner, adds:
“Slashing spending on green technologies is a false saving, which sends entirely the wrong message to potential investors. The Government must heed the warning of its own advisors and invest money now to build a future that is both good for our businesses and good for the planet.”
For further information:
UK Government to cut low-carbon programmes by £34 million (19-Jul)
UK’s ‘greenest government ever’ fails to deliver on Budget (23-Jun)
UK Budget cuts could hit public sector efficiency initiatives (23-Jun)
UK Government unveils energy and green economy bill (26-May)
20 July 2010