U.K. CO2 Cuts Are 'Illusion' of Progress, Turner Says

(Bloomberg) – Declining carbon-dioxide output from Britain is an “illusion” created by the global recession, Committee on Climate Change Chairman Adair Turner said today.

Britain’s CO2 emissions fell by 8.6 percent in 2009 as the economic crisis curbed production at power stations and factories, according to a report published by the commission set up in 2008 to advise on climate change. Emissions dropped 1.9 percent in the previous year, the report said.

“The recession has created the illusion that progress is being made to reduce emissions,” Turner said in the statement. “We are repeating our call for new policy approaches to drive the required step change,” said Turner, also chairman of the Financial Services Authority and a member of the House of Lords.

The commission may suggest a more-ambitious 2020 target to cut emissions, raising it to 42 percent from 1990 levels because of the recession. This idea will be reviewed in the next report, the statement said. Britain’s current emission-reduction target is at 34 percent. It is the only country to set legally binding targets through 2050 under its Climate Change Act.

Electricity markets, construction, transportation and agriculture must adapt to achieve the U.K.’s long-term emission reductions, the committee said.

Britain must make swift decisions on funding carbon capture and storage projects, Joan MacNaughton, a senior vice president at Alstom Power said in a phone interview today in response to the commission’s report.


“They need to get on quickly with selecting the four demonstration plants,” said MacNaughton, based in London. She formerly worked as director-general of energy at the U.K.’s Department of Trade and Industry until July 2006. “I hope when they do that, they have a quick timetable.”

The U.K. is betting that carbon capture technology will help cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 through 2050. The government estimates that developing the technology may add 6.5 billion pounds ($10 billion) a year to the economy and create 100,000 British jobs by 2030.

Over 60 percent of power stations that will be operating worldwide in 2030 have already been built to run on fossil fuels, MacNaughton said. “That’s why we’ve got to do these demos. The technology is not fully understood.”

Alstom SA supplies equipment for power stations, wind farms and electricity networks.

Chris Huhne, the U.K’s secretary of state for energy and climate change, said the nation can’t rely on the recession to cut emissions. “There has to be an enduring shift to low carbon, driving growth in new technologies, and it must be locked into the fabric of our economy in good times and bad,” he said in an e-mailed statement today.

The government accepted advice in April 2009 from the committee and laid out the nation’s first “carbon budgets,” requiring a 34 percent cut on average from 1990 levels in the four years from 2018 through 2022. The government aims for an 80 percent reduction in CO2 by 2050.

–Editors: Mike Anderson, Randall Hackley.

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