UK should cut emissions by 60 percent - Report

The UK Committee on
Climate Change has recommended a carbon budget for 2023-27 for
Britain and a target for a 60% cut in emissions by 2030 - halfway
between now and 2050.

The recommended target for 2030, to cut emissions by 60%
relative to 1990 levels (46% relative to current levels), would
then require a 62% emissions reduction from 2030 to meet the 2050
target in the Climate Change Act.

It implies a back-ended path for emissions reductions over the next
four decades, and therefore sets a minimum level of ambition in
2030 compatible with the 2050 target. The Committee estimates that
the recommended target can be achieved at a cost of less than 1% of
GDP (i.e. a fraction of one year’s growth over the next two

In order to achieve deep emissions cuts required in the period
to 2030, the Committee recommended that the carbon budgets
currently in legislation (which cover the period up to 2022) should
be tightened to reflect a 37% reduction in GHGs in 2020 relative to
1990 (from the currently legislated 34% cut), which could be raised
further again to 42% once the EU has moved to more ambitious
climate change targets.

New carbon budgets should be legislated by summer 2011, as
required under the Climate Change Act.

In making its recommendations, the Committee set out a detailed
assessment of opportunities for reducing emissions in the UK over
the next two decades. This assessment shows how the 2030 target
could be achieved through a combination of the following

Radical decarbonisation and reform of the electricity

Investment in low carbon
technologies including wind, nuclear and Carbon Capture and Storage
(CCS) applied to coal and gas could reduce the carbon intensity of
the electricity we use by 90% by 2030 (i.e. from 500 gCO2/kWh to 50
gCO2 /kWh).

Rolling out smart meters to homes
and non-residential buildings would provide opportunities for
people to better control their consumption, and reduce their energy
bills. Achieving these very challenging levels of investment, will
require the equivalent of 25 new large scale low-carbon generating
power stations to be added to the grid (up to 40 GW), and this will
require radical reform of the electricity market.

The Committee recommends that new
market arrangements are introduced whereby the Government tenders
long-term contracts for low carbon capacity; proposals from the
Government on new market reforms are due before the end of the

Widespread development and deployment of low-carbon

A 45% reduction in emissions from
surface transport is achievable by 2030, mainly through the
widespread development and deployment of electric cars and vans.
The Committee suggests that a 60% share of electric vehicles in new
vehicles by 2030 would be compatible with the recommended target,
by which time there could be 11 million electric cars and 1.5
million vans on the road.

Hydrogen could be used to power
Heavy Goods Vehicles and half of all buses. More could also be done
by Government to reduce car trips, by 5% by 2030, (through
initiatives including encouragement of car pooling and use of
public transport).

National transformation of homes and non-residential

We could see many more homes better
insulated, with half of all homes that have leaky solid walls
insulated by 2030 (3.5 million), and almost 30% of all households
using heat pumps (a low-carbon technology) to heat their homes
rather than conventional heaters. In addition, there may be a role
for district heating systems using waste heat from low carbon power

Halving of emissions from industry by 2030

Through the application of more
energy efficient processes and CCS technology to industrial
processes and the use of biomass and biogas to meet 25% of all
industrial heat demand by 2030.

Widespread use of more carbon-efficient practices on

The Committee identifies scope for
cutting agriculture emissions by up to 20% over the next two
decades through a range of more efficient farming practice both as
regards livestock and the application of fertiliser to soils.
Unlocking this potential may require stronger policies than the
current voluntary approach, and the Government should consider the
full range of levers to strengthen incentives for farmers.

In making its recommendations, the Committee considered the
latest evidence on climate science, including a review commissioned
of 500 recently published peer-reviewed papers. This led them to
the conclusion that the science remains robust and the case for
action is stronger than ever.

The review of climate science confirmed that:

  • Global climate change is already happening, as is evident
    through a comprehensive range of measurements. It is highly
    likely that this is largely a result of human activity (the
    greenhouse effect is very well understood and accepted; the current
    concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, resulting from human
    activity, is higher than at any time during the last million

  • Without action, there is a high risk of warming well beyond 2
    degrees which will have significant consequences for human welfare
    and ecological systems over the course of this century and beyond.
    e.g. (species extinction, widespread flooding, drought).

In light of this, the report says that the climate objective to
limit estimates of global mean temperature change by 2100 to around
2 degrees, and the associated 80% emissions reduction target for
the UK in 2050, continues to be appropriate; the fourth budget and
the 2030 target recommended by the Committee are designed to be
compatible with the 2050 target.

“The case for action on climate change
is as strong as ever: climate science remains robust and suggests
that there are very significant risks if we do not cut emissions.
And countries acting now will gain economic benefits in an
increasingly carbon constrained world.” Chair of the Committee
on Climate Change, Lord Adair Turner

The Committee also reassessed the international context and
global emissions pathways, concluding that in order to stabilise
global temperatures, emissions need to peak by 2020 before starting
to fall by 25% by 2030 and 50% by 2050.

New policies to drive the step change in emissions required - in
particular a national programme to improve energy efficiency, a
roll-out of smart meters, support for public transport, more
widespread use of carbon-efficient practices on farms.

Funding and policies to support the development of new
technologies and markets required to 2050, in particular CCS for
power generation and industry, electric cars and vans, and electric
heat pumps. Comprehensive programmes should be developed in each of
these areas as a matter of urgency.

More ambitious EU-wide policies - government should support an
EU-wide move to a 30% emission reduction target in 2020 (relative
to 1990), and a 55% cut by 2030 in emissions, with tighter
regulations put in place for new

cars and vans and reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy so
that it links subsidies and incentives to climate change


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