The UK needs to implement a step change to reduce carbon emissions, the first annual report from the Committee on Climate Change concludes.
The independent body established to oversee the implementation of the Climate Change Act, concluded that in order to meet the Government's Low Carbon Transition Plan, the UK needs to improve its annual reduction in carbon emissions.
The committee which is responsible for reporting annual emission reductions in the UK, states that in the five years between 2003 to 2007 emissions reductions averaged 0.5 per cent per annum. Reductions of 2-3 per cent pa will be required to meet the carbon budgets already set and therefore the UK needs to increase its pace of reduction.
Although the final emission data for 2008 is not yet available, the committee estimates that the declining economic activity through the year is likely to have produced an emissions cut of around 2 per cent in 2008, and recession could reduce emissions by a total of 40-70 million tonnes. However recession induced reductions must not be confused with underlying progress, the committee said, recommending that the UK should aim to overachieve emissions reductions in the first reported year.
Rapid decarbonisation of electricity generation is a crucial priority, and scenarios to achieve a reduction in grams per kWh from today's 540g CO2/kWh to less than 300g CO2/kWh in 2020, could include 23 GW of new wind capacity, up to 3 new nuclear stations and up to 4 CCS demonstration plants by 2016.
The Committee reiterated its belief that the carbon-efficiency of new cars can and should be reduced to 95g/km by 2020. This reduction could be achieved by improvements to fuel efficiency on conventional cars, but further reductions beyond 2020 will require a significant role for electric cars.
Manufacturer announcements of electric car initiatives have progressed even more rapidly than the Committee envisaged, and significant progress on battery cost reduction continues.
But to ensure rapid progress, two new mutually reinforcing government policies are required: the support for new car purchase to drive initial volumes and help manufacturers achieve economies of scale; and support for battery charging infrastructure.
The committee also called for the energy efficiency in homes to be improved by 35 per cent by 2020 through an ambitious program of improved insulation (e.g. covering 10 million lofts, 7 million cavity walls and 2 million solid walls), the installation of 12 million energy efficient condensing boilers, and major improvements in electrical appliance efficiency.
Lord Turner, Chair of the CCC said: "With the carbon budgets in place, we now need to achieve a step change in the pace of emissions reduction. The Government needs to build on its 'Low Carbon Transition Plan' and put in place a comprehensive delivery framework. What we have proposed is achievable and affordable but action needs to be taken now if we are to make our contribution to combating climate change."
The report shows that current measures are not enough to meet targeted reductions in emissions argues the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT). Responding to the report released today, Stephen Joseph, executive director of CBT said: “This is a clear message to the Government that it can’t rely on electric vehicles and biofuels as transport’s contribution to tackling climate change. As the committee says, more radical changes in transport planning and roll-out of travel plans and other 'smarter choices' are essential to cut transport emissions. Funding for these needs to be protected and expanded in forthcoming spending reviews."