UK set to miss fourth and fifth carbon budgets

28th June 2018


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Failure to decarbonise sectors such as transport and agriculture has meant the UK is likely to miss its legally-binding emission reduction targets for the 2020s and 2030s.

That is according to a report published today by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which highlights how successful greenhouse gas emission cuts in the electricity sector have masked failures in other industries.

It laments a lack of detailed policies, and argues that the next year will be “crucial” if the government is to achieve the fourth and fifth carbon budgets to cut emissions by 57% on 1990 levels by 2032.

These are part of the long-term 2050 reduction target of 80% outlined in the Climate Change Act, with emissions cuts in the country currently hovering around the 43% mark.

The findings come in the same week that the government voted in favour of a new runway at Heathrow airport, and also decided against funding a tidal lagoon power plant in Swansea.

CCC chair, Lord Deben, said: “We have to ensure the government learns from 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.”

The CCC report highlights how short-term cost worries have prevented the government from providing a route to market for cheap onshore wind and also left the country short on woodland creation.

Withdrawing incentives have cut home insulation installations by 5% on their 2012 level, while chopping and changing policies such as the Zero Carbon Homes plan has led to uncertainty and been costly.

The report also argues that an 80% reduction in emissions implies the need for new national infrastructure, such as to transport and store CO2, while effective regulation and enforcement for vehicle emissions cuts will also be needed.

“Lives and livelihoods are already being lost due to devastating climate breakdown,” Friends of the Earth climate campaigner, Oliver Hayes, said. “There are huge opportunities here, but the government is dropping the ball.

“The climate committee is clear that urgent action is not only essential, but also low-cost. Delaying action will increase the human and financial costs for everyone.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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