In this report, ‘Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliament’, the Committee sets out four key messages to Government to put emissions reductions on track, based on the lessons of the last decade.

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 excellent progress in reducing emissions from electricity generation, while reductions in other sectors have stalled.

The committee’s four key messages to Government:

  1. Support the simple, low-cost options
  2. Commit to effective regulation and strict enforcement
  3. End the chopping and changing of policy
  4. Act now to keep long-term options open


The CCC Press Release

Ten years after the Climate Change Act came into force, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says the Government must learn the lessons of the last decade if it is to meet legally-binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the 2020s and 2030s. Unless action is taken now, the public faces an unnecessarily expensive deal to make the shift to a low-carbon economy.

Overall, UK emissions are down 43% compared to the 1990 baseline while the economy has grown significantly over the same period.

Since 2008, the UK has seen a rapid reduction in emissions in the electricity sector, but this achievement masks a marked failure to decarbonise other sectors, including transport, agriculture and buildings. In the last five years, emissions reductions in these areas have stalled. As a result, the UK is not on course to meet the fourth (2023-2027) or fifth (2028-2032) carbon budgets. Nor will it be on course unless risks to the delivery of existing policies are reduced significantly and until Government brings forward effective new policies to deliver commitments beyond the achievements in electricity generation and waste.

The next year is crucial. In January, the Committee commended the ambition of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, but found few new detailed policies to reduce UK emissions into the next decade and beyond. Five months on, policy details are still largely absent, and we haven’t yet had the Department for Transport’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, delayed from its planned publication in March. It is in this context that the Committee’s new report ‘Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliamentsets out four key messages to Government to put emissions reductions on track, based on the lessons of the last decade:

  1. Support the simple, low-cost options. 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.
  2. Commit to effective regulation and strict enforcement. 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.
  3. End the chopping and changing of policy. 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.
  4. Act now to keep long-term options open. 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 Committee’s report presents a list of critical commitments it expects the Government to deliver by the time the CCC issues its next progress report to Parliament in June 2019. A number of actions are required by the end of 2018 including concrete policies to secure improvements in residential energy efficiency, a deployment pathway for CCS and new policy to strengthen the incentives for people to buy electric vehicles – amongst others.

Read the full report CCC-2018-Progress-Report-to-Parliament

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