The Committee on Climate Change today published its latest carbon budget and called for a cut in emissions of 60% by 2030.
This ambitious figure would be delivered, said the CCC, by radically decarbonising and reforming the electricity market, instituting a mass deployment of electric vehicles and halving CO2 emissions from industry.
And it wants to see the equivalent of 25 new large scale low-carbon generating power stations added to the grid.
The 2030 target of 60% is relative to 1990 levels and would then require a 62% emissions reduction from 2030 to meet the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act.
And the committee estimates that the recommended target can be achieved at a cost of less than 1% of GDP.
In order to achieve the 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 greenhouse gases in 2020 relative to 1990 (from the currently legislated 34% cut), which could be raised again to 42% once the EU has moved to more ambitious climate change targets.
It said 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 measures were:
a) Radical decarbonisation and reform of the electricity market: the CCC said that investment in low carbon technologies including wind, nuclear and carbon capture and storage applied to coal and gas could reduce the carbon intensity of the electricity used in the UK by 90% by 2030. 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.
To hit these levels of investment, the CCC wants to see the equivalent of 25 new large scale low-carbon generating power stations to be added to the grid, which would mean radical reform of the electricity market.
The CCC also recommended 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 year.
b) Widespread development and deployment of low-carbon vehicles: The CC believes a 45% reduction in emissions from surface transport is achievable by 2030, mainly through the widespread development and deployment of electric cars and vans. It 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 11m electric cars and 1.5m vans on the road. Hydrogen could be used to power heavy goods vehicles and half of all buses.
c) National transformation of homes and non-residential buildings: the report states that by 2030, half of all homes that have leaky solid walls could be insulated, and almost 30% of all households could be using heat pumps to warm their homes rather than conventional heaters. In addition, there may be a role for district heating systems using waste heat from low carbon power stations.
The CCC is also calling for more widespread use of carbon-efficient practices on farms. The Committee identified 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, said the CCC, should consider the full range of levers to strengthen incentives for farmers.
The committee also looked at international moves on climate change. It concluded that although it looks unlikely that a binding international agreement will be signed at Cancun, if the 85 pledges made by countries under the Copenhagen Accord were delivered, this would put the world on the right path to achieving a peaking of emissions by 2020.
Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, Lord Adair Turner said: “We are recommending a stretching but realistic fourth carbon budget and 2030 target, achievable at a cost of less than 1% of GDP. Any less ambition would not be compatible with the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act.
“We therefore urge the government to legislate the budget that we have recommended, and to develop the policies required to cut emissions over the next two decades.”
He added that “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.”
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne responded to the CCC report:”I welcome the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on setting the fourth carbon budget. It’s a report we will want to consider in detail. We know that the status quo will not be enough to cut carbon which is why we are planning to undertake a comprehensive review of the electricity market, increase home energy efficiency under the Green Deal and create a Green Investment Bank. We will formally respond to the report in spring next year.”