The pace of emissions reduction in the UK needs to increase fourfold, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) told the government today.
In its latest report, the Committee says that even though greenhouse gas emissions fell 7% last year, only 0.8% of this was down to the government’s proactive carbon-lowering measures.
“Much of last year’s fall in emissions was due to a combination of mild weather, rising fuel prices, falling incomes and transitory factors in power generation,” explains chief executive of the independent advisory body, David Kennedy.
He warns that as the UK’s economy starts to recover, it will be difficult to keep the UK on track to meet its carbon budgets unless the government moves from “planning to delivering change”.
“There are some good initiatives in the pipeline, but more is needed to improve the investment climate, and put in place incentives so that people and businesses can act,” he says, “and to do this as a matter of urgency.”
The report highlights three major challenges, namely the lack of investment in renewable and low-carbon power, improving the energy efficiency of homes and businesses and increasing the adoption of renewable heat technologies, and cleaning up the transport sector.
The Committee recommends clarifying objectives under the forthcoming electricity market reform legislation to drive investment, particularly the selection of a demonstration carbon capture and storage project by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the government needs to incorporate incentives into the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation to drive up rates of home and business insulation to treat the remaining 7 million lofts and 6-7 million cavity walls, not to mention untreated solid walls.
Renewable heat technologies have shown low rates of adoption to date, says the report, and here the government should expand its Renewable Heat Incentive and address market barriers.
And finally, while the report commends the continuing fall in emissions from new cars, there appears to be an increase in driving and little progress in reducing emissions from vans. There should be more incentives to clean up vans and continued support for the adoption of electric vehicles.
The report has been welcomed by environmental groups, with Friends of the Earth campaigner Donna Hume commenting:
“The Government must listen to its independent advisor and commit in its new Energy Bill to delivering a fossil fuel-free electricity system by 2030. Ministers must abandon their reckless dash for gas to stop investor confidence in clean British energy from our wind, waves and sun from nose diving.”
For further information:
UK to allow small emitters to opt out of emissions trading (28-May)
UK climate change policies will protect against rising prices, says Davey (21-May)
UK needs local carbon plans, says Climate Committee (17-May)
UK greenhouse gas emissions down 7% in 2011 (30-Mar)
29 June 2012