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Urgent action needed to meet carbon reduction targets

Urgent action is needed to make sure the UK meets future carbon emission reduction targets, according to a major new report.

Published today, the Committee on Climate Change’s new report 2018 Progress Report to Parliament warns the UK is not on course to meet the fourth (2023-2027) or fifth (2028-2032) carbon budgets and calls on ministers to end the ‘chopping and changing’ of policy.

The report also warns that 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, according to the report.

Since 2008, it adds 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.

But in the last five years, emissions reductions in these areas have stalled.

The report also states that low-cost, low-risk options to reduce emissions are not being supported by Government and there is no route to market for cheap onshore wind.

It comes just days after the Government announced it would no longer support plans for a tidal power lagoon in Swansea Bay.

‘Although the UK seeks to lead the world in tackling climate change, the fact is that we’re off track to meet our own emissions targets in the 2020s and 2030s,’ said committee chairman, Lord Deben.

‘We welcomed the Government’s commitment in the Clean Growth Strategy to put green growth at the heart of its economic policy. We recognise that over the last 10 years, the Government has shown it has the know-how and commitment to drive down UK emissions in the electricity sector by acting early and consistently to avoid costly interventions later.

‘We now have to ensure that the Government learns from this experience and presents a programme to tackle emissions right across the economy, including in buildings, transport and agriculture. This action is now urgent in order to meet the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets, and to prepare to fulfil the obligations of the Paris Agreement.’

Commenting on the report, the executive director of the Aldersgate Group, Nick Molho, said: ‘Despite the positive progress delivered in the power sector and ambition coming out of government, the UK is not on course to deliver its carbon budgets on time or cost effectively.

‘Private sector investment and supply chain growth in areas such as onshore wind and energy efficiency is being hampered by a lack of clear regulations (such as binding EPC targets), fiscal incentives (such as stamp duty rebates) and market mechanisms (such as subsidy free CfDs for onshore wind).

‘The vision set out in the government’s Clean Growth Strategy was a positive one but it must urgently be complemented by clear regulations and incentives to support decarbonisation in sectors that have shown negligible progress, creating project pipelines to drive energy efficiency improvements and low carbon heat provision in buildings, and the growth of an ultra low emissions vehicles market. Without project pipelines that attract long-term business investment in innovation, supply chains and skills, the UK will miss out on its climate targets and its industrial clean growth ambitions.’

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