The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned that the UK needs to take act decisively to cut greenhouse gas emissions given its commitment to the Paris Agreement, regardless of Brexit.
The CCC has identified a package of measures that it would like the government to pursue in order to meet existing UK climate commitments.
Analysis from the Committee reveals that by taking steps now to cut emissions then the UK will have greater flexibility going forward.
The Paris Agreement represents a huge step to tackle climate change on the global stage. It is more ambitious in its target to limit climate change than the UK’s existing climate targets.
The CCC argues, however, that it is not yet appropriate to set new UK targets. Existing targets are already stretching and the priority is to take action to meet them. The vote to leave the EU does not change the UK’s legal commitments to cut its emissions by 57% by 2030 and at least 80% by 2050 (relative to 1990) under the Climate Change Act.
Currently, UK emissions are 38% below 1990 levels but the CCC believe that more reductions will be needed in transport, heat, industry, and agriculture to meet the 2030 carbon budget legislated by the current government, to prepare sufficiently for the 2050 target, and ultimately to reach the Paris goal of net zero emissions in the second half of the century.
Existing policies would at best only deliver around 50% of the required emissions reduction to 2030. The Government has committed to closing that gap in its forthcoming Emissions Reduction Plan.
The CCC recommends a new energy efficiency programme is for UK homes to include seven million insulations of walls and lofts. Heating and hot water for UK buildings make up 20% of UK emissions but efforts on improving efficiency have stalled.
It is envisaged that efficiency measures could cut energy demand for heating by around 15% while reducing energy bills.
A clearer strategy to deliver low-carbon heat is also required and should include the immediate and properly targeted roll-out of heat pumps and heat networks between now and the mid-2020s, alongside sizeable trials of hydrogen for heating.
The uptake of low emission vehicles plus low-carbon electricity generation being given a route to market will also play key parts in delivering on these targets.
Lord Deben, CCC Chairman, said: “In its speedy acceptance of the fifth carbon budget and its support for the Paris Agreement, the new government has shown it is committed to tackling climate change. The vote to leave the EU does not alter those commitments – nor does it change the risks that climate change poses.
“Action is needed now to ensure the UK can deliver its climate obligations at least cost. For too long, Government policy has neglected the UK’s ageing homes and heating systems. It is time to remedy that failure with policies that are simple, stable, and designed to work for the ordinary household.”
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