UK set to miss net zero emissions target

27th August 2019

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Sam Chadwick

The UK will fail to deliver on its 2050 net zero emissions target unless new clean growth policies are introduced, a cross-party group of MPs has warned.

The Science and Technology Committee (STC) said that government policy has delayed, cut back or undermined carbon reductions, and that urgent action is needed to reverse this trend.

It recommends 10 steps to meet the 2050 net zero emissions goal, which include guidance to boost household energy efficiency, decarbonise heating systems, and sustain nuclear power.

This comes after the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) last year said that the UK is not even on course to meet its legally binding reduction targets for 2023 to 2032.

“Throughout our inquiry, it was worrying to hear that, although the government may be ambitious reducing carbon emissions, it is not putting the policies in place needed to achieve those targets,“ STC chair, Norman Lamb, said.

“We heard of cut backs in various programmes and slow progress, which are incompatible with the UK's two upcoming, legally binding carbon budgets – this is unacceptable.“

The STC's recommendations, summarised in a new report, call for a clearer heat decarbonisation strategy that includes large-scale trials of different technologies such as hydrogen gas heating and heat pumps.

Subject to value for money, the government should also seek to finance new nuclear power generation in a way that sustains the industry but does not grow it.

Moreover, the committee said that ministers should consider adjusting stamp duty so that it varies depending on the energy efficiency of homes, and provide matched funding and interest-free loans for efficiency improvements.

Steps to reduce vehicle emissions, support onshore wind and solar power, boost carbon capture, align regulations with emission targets, help local authorities, cut total CO2 emissions, and encourage small-scale renewable energy generation are also recommended.

“The worrying effects of climate change, such as heatwaves, wildfires and flooding are already occurring at an alarming rate and will have a huge impact on future generations,“ Lamb continued.

“This report clearly highlights 10 key areas of concern and we hope the government listens to our realistic, achievable recommendations on how to make the UK a world leader in cutting carbon emissions once again.“

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