Renewables and fuel efficiency in cars are driving the carbon budget in the right direction but not fast enough to meet future targets

15th July 2014

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Policies to improved fuel efficiency in new cars and investment in wind generation are making good progress, but future carbon budgets will not be met unless the government speeds up progress in other areas, according to the latest report from the committee on climate change (CCC).

The report, “Meeting carbon budgets”, says the 2008–12 carbon budget was achieved through a combination of the impact of the recession and low-carbon initiatives, but under current policies carbon emissions may only fall by 21% from 2013 to 2025, instead of the 31% required to meet future budgets.

To close the gap, the CCC recommends further measures to improve energy efficiency and investment in low-carbon technology, supported by behaviour change.

Low-carbon heating must be a priority, says the report, recommending that the government focus on tackling the financial and non-financial barriers preventing the rollout of such technology. It also says funding for the Renewable Heat Incentive should be extended beyond 2016 to encourage greater uptake in commercial schemes.

The committee says it has found little evidence of energy efficiency improvements in the commercial sector, and blames this on complex policies and mixed incentives, which, it argues, should be simplified.

There have been positive signals in the development of the electric vehicle (EV) market, but the uptake is slow. The CCC wants the government to strongly support ambitious EU targets for new car emissions, which it believes will incentivise manufacturers to promote electric vehicles. More investment and development in EV charging infrastructure could also allow current purchase subsidies to be phased out over time, says the report.

Progress with carbon capture and storage (CCS) is well behind schedule and the report says the government needs to press ahead with developing the first two CCS demonstration plants. The committee also urges the government to set out its approach for future CCS projects, including industrial schemes, and to support the development of a CCS infrastructure.

Lord Deben, chair of the CCC, said: “Climate change demands urgent action. However, despite our success, the UK is still not on track to meet our statutory commitment to cut emissions by 80%. The longer we leave it, the costlier it becomes. This report shows the best and most cost-effective ways to ensure we meet our targets. There is no time to lose.”


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