Tightening of UK Emissions Reduction Target

The Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) has released a major new report recommending that the UK tightens its existing 2050 target of 80% reduction, to a new target of net zero, where any remaining UK emissions of Green House Gases (GHG) are offset by domestic carbon capture measures.

The CCC is mandated by the 2008 Climate Change Act to be the independent advisor to Government on Climate Change issues, and BEIS must respond to CCC proposals. Indeed this specific report was requested by the English, Scottish and Welsh Governments, so the proposals are extremely likely to be taken forward, and as such will underpin regulatory developments over the next few years.

The report is notable for the number of issues addressed, and is intended to reinvigorate the UK in taking a global leadership role in leading the way to develop policies to mitigate climate change.

While the full impact of the report can only be assessed once BEIS respond, there were a number of key issues highlighted at the formal launch on Thursday.

  • The net zero target addresses all GHG emissions in the UK (not just carbon). Previously 2070 had been an informal target. Offsets outside the UK should not be used. Taking into account local opportunities, Scotland may go for an earlier date, while Wales may go for a slightly looser 95% target.
  • The scope should include aviation and shipping emissions currently not counted in UK accounting.
  • The possibility of bringing forward the target from 2050 (in response to the Extinction Rebellion campaign) was discounted on cost and practicality grounds.
  • The phase-in of electric vehicles should be brought forward to 2035 at the latest.
  • Decarbonising heat is a priority – the ‘last 10 years have been wasted’. Proposals by next year at the latest.
  • Renewable energy must continue to expand, especially as demand for electricity is projected to double as electricity replaces fossil fuels for heat and transport.
  • Diets will need to change to reduce the amount of carbon intensive meat and dairy consumed.
  • A huge tree planting programme should be urgently started to offset remaining emissions.

Lord Deben (CCC Chair) stressed that thanks to quickly developing technology and falling deployment costs, the target is reasonable and achievable, with an overall cost in the region of 1 to 2% of GDP each year – a cost previously expected to only deliver the 80% target and previously endorsed by cross-party politicians.

During the development of the report, CPI spoke to CCC staff on a number of occasions to brief them on the implications for industry and the critical importance of not making the UK such a high cost manufacturing location that we lose UK industry. We were reassured this is understood by Government, with the point reiterated during the launch where it was acknowledged that consumption emissions are equally important to national emissions.

The full report can be found here.

A more detailed brief will be provided to CPI’s Process Issues Committee.  For a copy please contact Steve Freeman on 07775 696514 or email sfreeman@paper.org.uk.