Reaching net zero by 2050 is impossible unless the government takes cutting energy use seriously.
That’s the warning offered in a new report from think tank Green Alliance, which says the government has a “narrow approach” to tackling climate change that is too focused on expanding renewables and phasing out coal.
It says this focus on cleaning up energy supply instead of working to reduce demand means sectors like transport, buildings and industry are “way behind” on implementing effective carbon-reduction strategies – the report suggests these industries on track to deliver only a tenth of the emissions savings they need to during the next 12 years.
Green Alliance says reducing energy demand must be central to UK energy policy and notes this would bring additional benefits such as financial gains for people and businesses, better public health and a cleaner, stronger economy.
It claims current policies largely ignore the potential of greater resource efficiency, which it predicts could lead to carbon reductions “three to four times greater than those envisaged for energy efficiency by 2050”.
The report calls for all government departments to strive to avoid unnecessary energy use, including the use of personal cars, improve technical energy efficiency to reduce energy waste and loss by buildings, transport and products, and support flexible energy demand through tools such as ‘time of use’ tariffs.
Libby Peake, Head of Resource Policy at Green Alliance, said: “The government’s approach to energy is self-defeating. It ignores half of the equation and denies people considerable benefits.
“Not only would reducing demand help to reach carbon reduction targets earlier, it would also reduce infrastructure costs and benefit everyone – through cleaner air, more comfortable homes and healthier lives.”
ELN has contacted BEIS for a response.