CCC report to government: Phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to end UK contribution to global warming
Date added: May 2, 2019
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has produced its report to government, on how the UK should aim to become zero-carbon by 2050. This comes over 10 years after the Climate Change Act was passed, and higher ambition is now needed than the earlier target of an 80% cut on the 1990 level by 2050. The world is on course for a temperature rise of 3 – 4°C later this century unless drastic action is taken. Net-zero in the UK would lead the global effort to try to limit the rise to 1.5°C. The CCC hopes its targets can be achieved with known technologies, though it places a lot of faith in capturing carbon – not done on any scale at present. The CCC says the changes should be put into law as soon as possible, ideally before September 2019. There are current policies moving in the right direction, but “these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets.” …”The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency.”
Phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to end UK contribution to global warming
The UK can end its contribution to global warming within 30 years by setting an ambitious new target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says today.
Ten years after the Climate Change Act became law, now is the right moment to set a more ambitious goal. Achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement; the pact which the UK and the rest of the world signed in 2015 to curb dramatically the polluting gases that cause climate change.
Scotland has greater potential to remove pollution from its economy than the UK overall, and can credibly adopt a more ambitious target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 2045.
Wales has slightly lower opportunities than the UK as a whole, and should adopt a target for a 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.
This is a crucial time in the global effort to tackle climate change. Global average temperature has already risen by 1°C from pre-industrial levels, driving changes in our climate that are apparent increasingly. In the last ten years, pledges to reduce emissions by the countries of the world have reduced the forecast of global warming from above 4°C by the end of the century to around 3°C. Net-zero in the UK would lead the global effort to further limit the rise to 1.5°C.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasised the vital importance of limiting further warming to as low a level as possible and the need for deep and rapid emissions reductions in order to do so.
The CCC’s recommended targets, which cover all sectors of the UK, Scottish and Welsh economies, are achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and should be put into law as soon as possible, the Committee says.
Falls in cost for some of the key zero-carbon technologies mean that achieving net-zero is now possible within the economic cost that Parliament originally accepted when it passed the Climate Change Act in 2008.
The Committee’s report, requested by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments in light of the Paris Agreement and the IPCC’s Special Report in 2018, finds that:
The foundations are in place throughout the UK and the policies required to deliver key pillars of a net-zero economy are already active or in development. These include: a supply of low-carbon electricity (which will need to quadruple by 2050), efficient buildings and low-carbon heating (required throughout the UK’s building stock), electric vehicles (which should be the only option from 2035 or earlier), developing carbon capture and storage technology and low-carbon hydrogen (which are a necessity not an option), stopping biodegradable waste going to landfill, phasing-out potent fluorinated gases, increasing tree planting, and measures to reduce emissions on farms. However, these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets.
Policies will have to ramp up significantly for a ‘net-zero’ emissions target to be credible, given that most sectors of the economy will need to cut their emissions to zero by 2050. The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency. The public will need to be engaged if the transition is to succeed. Serious plans are needed to clean up the UK’s heating systems, to deliver the infrastructure for carbon capture and storage technology and to drive transformational change in how we use our land.
The overall costs of the transition to a net-zero economy are manageable but they must be fairly distributed. Rapid cost reductions in essential technologies such as offshore wind and batteries for electric vehicles mean that a net-zero greenhouse gas target can be met at an annual cost of up to 1-2% of GDP to 2050. However, the costs of the transition must be fair, and must be perceived as such by workers and energy bill payers. The Committee recommends that the Treasury reviews how the remaining costs of achieving net- zero can be managed in a fair way for consumers and businesses.
There are multiple benefits of the transition to a zero-carbon economy, the Committee’s report shows. These include benefits to people’s health from better air quality, less noise thanks to quieter vehicles, more active travel thanks to increased rates of cycling and walking, healthier diets, and increased recreational benefits from changes to land use.
In addition, the UK could receive an industrial boost as it leads the way in low-carbon products and services including electric vehicles, finance and engineering, carbon capture and storage and hydrogen technologies with potential benefits for exports, productivity and jobs.
Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said: “We can all see that the climate is changing and it needs a serious response. The great news is that it is not only possible for the UK to play its full part – we explain how in our new report – but it can be done within the cost envelope that Parliament has already accepted. The Government should accept the recommendations and set about making the changes needed to deliver them without delay.”
A net-zero target would require a 100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It is referred to as ‘net’ as the expectation is that it would be met with some remaining sources of emissions which would need to be offset by removals of CO2 from the atmosphere – by growing trees, for example.
Some extracts from the report, dealing with aviation:
Challenges that have not yet been confronted must now be addressed by government. Industry must be largely decarbonised, heavy goods vehicles must also switch to low-carbon fuel sources, emissions from international aviationand shipping cannot be ignored, and a fifth of our agricultural land must shift to alternative uses that support emissions reduction: afforestation, biomass production and peatland restoration. Where there are remaining emissions these must be fully offset by removing CO₂ from the atmosphere and permanently sequestering it, for example by using sustainable bioenergy in combination with CCS.
• The UK should legislate as soon as possible to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The target can be legislated as a 100% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) from 1990 and should cover all sectors of the economy, including international aviationand shipping.
• The aim should be to meet the target through UK domestic effort, without relying on international carbon units (or ‘credits’).
Setting and pursuing a UK net-zero GHG target for 2050 will confirm the UK as a leader among the developed countries on climate action. It demonstrates important principles of including emissions from all greenhouse gases and all sources (i.e. including international aviation and shipping), not relying on international offsetting and targeting ‘highest possible ambition’. Crucially it would be supported by the strong statutory emissions framework of the Climate Change Act.
Taken together, these measures would reduce UK emissions by 95-96% from 1990 to 2050. Tackling the remaining 4-5% would require some use of options that currently appear more speculative. That could involve greater shifts in diet and land use alongside more limited aviation demand growth, a large contribution from emerging technologies to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere (e.g. ‘direct air capture’), or successful development of a major supply of carbonneutral synthetic fuels (e.g. produced from algae or renewable power).
Aviation, agriculture and land must play their part. Updated evidence for aviationpoints to greater potential to reduce emissions, although we still expect the sector to emit more than any other in 2050. Our 80% scenarios did not assume any diet change, or major land use changes on the freed-up land, but these are both needed for a net-zero target.
The annual costs of removing emissions from the atmosphere are potentially large in our scenarios (e.g. of the order of £10 billion in 2050, possibly as high as £20 billion). These could be paid by industries, like aviation, that have not reduced their own emissions to zero. That would imply increasing costs (e.g. for flights) from 2035, as emission removals scale up in our scenarios.
In setting a net-zero target, these actions must be supplemented by stronger approaches to policy for industry, land use, HGVs, aviation and shipping, and GHG removals.
• Aviation and shipping. ICAO and IMO, the international agencies for aviation and shipping, have adopted targets to tackle emissions. The scenarios in this report go beyond those targets, suggesting increased ambition and stronger levers will be required in the long run. We will write to the Government later this year on its approach to aviation, building on the advice in this report.
GHG removals. The Government should expand support for early-stage research across the range of greenhouse gas (GHG) removal options, including trials and demonstration projects. It should also signal the longer-term market, which is clearly needed to meet a net-zero target, by developing the governance rules and market mechanisms to pay for emissions removals. Aviationstands out as an obvious sector that could require removals to offset its emissions – either through CORSIA (the international aviation industry’s planned trading scheme), the EU ETS or unilaterally the UK could support a net-zero target for aviation, requiring that all emissions are offset by removals.
[On the UK current target of 80% cut on the 1990 level by 2050]:
The Committee was clear that “any climate strategy should cover all GHGs and all sectors” and that the 80% target was designed on that basis. However, the Climate Change Bill did not include emissions from international aviation and shipping. The Committee therefore recommended that the target be legislated as “at least 80%” to cover the possibility that the sectors covered by the Bill may need to compensate for lower reductions in emissions from international aviation and shipping.
Sometimes ‘net-zero’ is used to refer to CO2 only, and sometimes it refers to all GHGs. There are some merits in each, which we consider in this report. Our recommendation in this report (Chapter 8) is that the UK should set a net-zero target to cover all GHGs and all sectors, including international aviationand shipping.
We make a detailed assessment in Chapters 5-7 of whether deeper reductions in UK emissions than currently targeted are feasible whilst still delivering on other government objectives and what these would cost. That assessment recognises areas where the UK’s challenge may be harder than that of other countries, for example due to our high population density and relatively high emissions from aviation.
Non-CO2 effects from aviation, which include the emission of nitrogen oxides and contrails, is an additional example of a human effect on the climate system that is also largely short-lived. Finding a way to eliminate these effects (which have an overall warming effect on the climate) before global temperatures peak would contribute to a lower peak warming if done without a compensating increase in CO2 emissions.
Alongside these big emitters the rest of the world is a large and growing part of global emissions. G20 countries make up around 78% of global emissions today but around half are currently not on track to achieve their NDCs. International aviation and shipping, which are excluded from national totals, represent around 2.5% of global GHG emissions and continued growing rapidly over recent years.
In 2017, UK GHG emissions105 per person were estimated to be 7.6 tCO2e/person, compared to a global average of 7.2 tCO2e/person (including emissions from land-use change and international aviationand shipping emissions).
[There is a short section on CORSIA on page 117]
Emissions from aviation can be limited through improvements to fuel efficiency, constraints on demand growth and switching to alternative fuels. However, deep emissions reductions in the aviation sector will be more difficult to achieve compared to other sectors (see Technical Report, Chapter 6). Current trends suggest a large share of emissions from aviationwill have to be compensated through reductions elsewhere or through emissions removal from the atmosphere.
The UK has been an influential voice on international aviationand shipping issues within the ICAO and IMO (Section 1). For instance, the UK was a strong proponent of the recently approved criteria on ‘additionality’ and ‘no double counting’ for CORSIA carbon units, and it led a group of countries pushing the IMO to adopt more ambitious goals.
Some currently Speculative options would also be needed to get to a 100% reduction (i.e. to net-zero GHG emissions). Options include: further changes in demand (e.g. in aviation and diets) alongside more radical shifts in land use; extensive use of emerging technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and safely store it (e.g. ‘direct air capture’); or successful development of a major supply of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels (e.g. produced from algae or renewable power).
Aviation. There are no commercially available low-carbon planes, so all flights currently rely on fossil fuels.
Aviation and shipping. Aviation emissions in the Core scenario are aligned with the Government’s objective to keep 2050 emissions at or below 2005 levels (i.e. 37.5 MtCO2). Shipping emissions are consistent with the internationally agreed target, which is to reduce global international shipping emissions by at least 50% below 2008 levels by 2050.
Aviation. Jointly with the Department for Transport, we commissioned a project assessing potential to reduce aviation emissions through new engine and aircraft designs, changes to airlines’ operations, and improvements to air traffic management.
(ii) Reducing emissions from hard-to-treat sectors – agriculture and aviation Agriculture and aviation stand out in our analysis as sectors where there are limited options currently available to reduce emissions. For agriculture that reflects some of the fundamental biological processes involved. For aviationit reflects the high energy-density required for aviation fuel.
Aviation. We have identified technical potential for additional emissions reduction beyond the Core scenario, including through more ambitious uptake of the Core options plus some use of hybrid-electric aircraft from the 2040s, and from reductions in design speeds of aircraft. However, the Further Ambition options for aviation would still result in emissions of 31 MtCO2e in 2050. This is because a fully zero-carbon plane is not anticipated to be available by 2050, particularly for long-haul flights which account for the majority of emissions. In total these harder-to-treat sectors would still have emissions of 55 MtCO2e in 2050 in this scenario, down from around 75 Mt in both 1990 and 2017.
. ‘BECCS (all sectors)’ covers the burning of biomass (including agricultural and forestry residues), waste wood, biomethane/biogas and the biogenic part of municipal and commercial and industrial waste (MSW/C&IW) in industry and for power generation, plus CO2 captured and stored from the production of biofuels for aviationand burning in homes (bioLPG in off-gas hybrid heat pumps).
[Table on Pag 155: Aviation
The grams CO2 per passenger kilometre is thought to be 110 in 2017, but 70 in the Core scenario for 2050, and 55 in the Further Ambition Scenario.
The amount of “sustainable biofuel” in use is thought to be 0% in 2017, 5% under the Core scenario in 2050, and 10% in the Further Ambition Scenario by 2050. ]
Further societal and behavioural changes. There is potential for larger changes in consumer choice, particularly in sectors where there are significant remaining emissions in 2050 (i.e. agriculture and aviation).
Aviation. The Further Ambition scenario allows a 60% increase in passenger demand above 2005 levels by 2050 (demand is currently around 30% higher). An additional reduction in emissions could be possible if demand were to be lower than this level (e.g. as an illustration, 20-40% above 2005 levels would imply a further saving in emissions of 4-8 MtCO2e). This could, for example, reflect a future change in consumer preferences and social norms, or more ambitious policy to limit growth in demand.
For example, to produce 115 TWh of synthetic jet fuel, which is the requirement after our Further Ambition options in aviationhave been applied, would require around 200 TWh of zero-carbon electricity. This is equivalent to a further 33% of the total UK electricity generation requirements under Further Ambition.
Bioenergy: our approach is to preferentially use bioenergy in combination with CCS in order to maximise the level of negative emissions. However, both the ETC and EC [ Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) and the European Commission (EC] have substantial volumes of bioenergy used without CCS: for example over half used for aviation fuel (ETC). Our analysis suggests that this is not the most effective use given the relatively low level of emissions reduction it achieves compared to use with CCS.
Aviation. Only the departing flights are included in the UK’s territorial emissions, but clearly fewer departing flights will also be associated with fewer arriving flights. These will be counted in the territorial emissions of the countries from which they depart and will help to reduce global emissions but may not count in the UK’s consumption emissions.
Aviation. Emissions from aviation make up a much lower share of total emissions in all three devolved administrations compared to the UK. The vast majority (around 90%) of all UK air passengers travel through airports in England,157 with English airports acting as a hub for long-haul flights for passengers from all areas of the UK.
Constrained aviation demand. Plausible options for how aviation could become zerocarbon, even by mid-century, are lacking. Given a population that is anticipated to grow and rising incomes, some growth in demand is expected. However, this cannot be unfettered. We have maintained our previous assumption that demand grows by 60% relative to 2005 levels (25% relative to today) by 2050, but latest evidence on the opportunities to reduce the carbon-intensity of flying suggest that these should more than offset demand growth, leading to an overall fall in emissions of around 20%.
Aviationis the other big contributor to household emissions in our net-zero scenarios. Average household emissions range from 0.5-0.7 tCO2e (for context, a return flight from London to New York is currently around 1 tCO2e, half of which will be accounted for in the UK). Although technology is expected to help reduce emissions to some extent (e.g. aircraft fuel-efficiency improvements), achieving emissions reduction will require action from households:
‒ Choosing to fly less. Not everyone in the UK flies – Government surveys suggest that half of those surveyed had not flown at all in the preceding year. Those who do could replace short-haul flights with train journeys and choose to go on fewer long-haul flights.
‒ Offsetting emissions. In the long term, households that choose to continue to fly will still be able to, but their emissions will need to be offset by removing CO2 from the atmosphere (see section 4(h)). This could be done directly by the airline, with the cost of offsets added to the ticket price.
Ensuring that all policy decisions and sectoral strategies are informed by the requirement for them to contribute to the delivery of net-zero by 2050, e.g. through reforms to the ‘Green Book’. In a net-zero world there is no room for any sectors to remain ‘untouched’, including agriculture and aviation.
10% of the abatement is driven by consumer choices – shifting more quickly towards healthier diets, reducing growth in aviation demandand choosing products that last longer and therefore improve resource efficiency.
It will not be possible to get close to meeting a net-zero target without engaging with people or by pursuing an approach that focuses only on supply-side changes:
• At the moment, while the public are generally supportive of action to tackle climate change (Box 6.3), people who wish to reduce their impact on emissions are not provided sufficient support to make decisions that achieve this. People will need help to make low-carbon choices, both in terms of avoiding high-carbon activities and in adopting low-carbon technologies (see section 2(d)). This will require making low-carbon choices more available, provision of information, trials to see what works and policy that learns by doing (Box 6.4).
(g) Implications for aviation and shipping policy
A net-zero target will require more effort from all sectors, including aviation. The Committee’s advice is that a net-zero target for 2050 should cover all sources of GHG emissions, including international aviation and shipping. We will set out our recommended policy approach for aviation in follow-up advice to the Government later in 2019. Reducing emissions from aviationwill require a combination of international and domestic polices, and these should be implemented in ways that avoid perverse outcomes (e.g. carbon leakage). A package of policy measures should be put in place that include carbon pricing, support for research, innovation and deployment, and measures to manage growth in demand:
• A long-term goal for international aviation emissions. The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s current carbon policy, CORSIA, has an end date of 2035. It will need to be based on robust rules that deliver genuine emission reductions (see section (h) below). A new long-term goal for global international aviation emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement would provide a strong and early signal to incentivise the investment in new, cleaner, technologies that will be required for the sector to play its role in meeting long-term targets. This is particularly important in aviation given the long lifetimes of assets. A similar approach has been agreed for global shipping emissions in the IMO, which has set a target for greenhouse gas emissions to be at least 50% below 2008 levels by 2050. 206 Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming | Committee on Climate Change
• Support for research, innovation, and deployment. Our analysis, and that of industry, suggests the largest contribution to reducing aviation emissions will come from new technologies and aircraft designs. Many of these developments are likely to be cost-effective, given their potential fuel savings. The Government should build on the approach set out in the Aerospace Sector Deal and Future Flight Challenge, and set out a clear strategy to ensure these technology solutions are developed and brought to market in a timely fashion. Synthetic fuels should not be a priority for government policy, but if industry wants to pursue them it should focus on demonstrating that these fuels, used in aviation, would be genuinely low-carbon, could become cost-competitive and are scalable in a global market.
• Measures to manage growth in demand. The Further Ambition scenario allows for a 60% growth in passenger demand by 2050 compared to 2005 levels (25% from now). Without additional policies being put in place, government projections suggest demand could be higher than this (e.g. their central case is for around a 90% growth in demand by 2050 on 2005 levels). New UK policies will therefore be needed to manage growth in demand. These could include carbon pricing, reforms to Air Passenger Duty, or policies to manage the use of airport capacity. Recent research commissioned by the DfT shows that UK policies to manage demand in aviation would not lead to carbon leakage from the UK to other countries in aggregate, given the relatively small amount of emissions affected. Policies to manage demand can therefore be pursued without significant risk of perverse impacts.
Action is also needed on non-CO₂ effects from aviation. These cause additional warming but should not be included within targets at this stage given their short-lived effects and uncertainty over how to measure and report their impact in the emissions inventory (Chapter 2). However, the Government should develop a strategy to ensure that these effects can be mitigated over the coming decades (e.g. by 2050-2070 for pathways that meet the Paris Agreement) without increasing CO₂ emissions. Demand-side measures are one way to reduce these effects.
The Government is aiming to publish an Aviation Strategy later in 2019, and published a consultation on this in December 2018. The consultation commits to regular updates of the Aviation Strategy. These regular reviews will provide an opportunity to respond to a future decision by Parliament to meet the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. The final White Paper should aim to set more specific time-points for these reviews, and align them to developments in government climate strategy overall.
In principle, rather than offsetting remaining emissions with BECCS or DACCS, the aviation industry could instead use synthetic carbon-neutral fuels, thereby reducing the sector’s emissions to zero on a ‘gross’ basis rather than a ‘net’ basis. However, such synthetic fuels are likely to be expensive, entailing recycling captured CO₂ (e.g. via direct air capture) into a drop-in replacement for kerosene. As set out in Chapter 5, we expect these synthetic fuels to be significantly more expensive than achieving the same emissions outcome by sequestering the same amount of CO₂ geologically to offset remaining fossil kerosene use. However, given the equivalence of these options in terms of emissions, it is not necessary for the policy framework to prefer one or the other.
Aviation. Average abatement costs in aviation are negative in our scenarios, as cost saving fuel efficiency improvements (-£50/tCO₂e) more than offset higher costs from biofuels (£125/ tCO₂e). Aviation demand reductionis not assumed to result in resource costs, although there could be a welfare loss to individuals from flying less than they might otherwise wish to.
The Climate Change Act (section 30) allows for emissions from international aviation and shipping to be included from any future year. Since the current carbon budgets have been set without these emissions, we recommend their inclusion from the first year of the sixth carbon budget (i.e. 2033).
Emissions should be included based on the ‘bunker fuels’ methodology. [ Bunker fuels is the convention used for estimating and reporting international transport emissions to the UN. It is based on the amount of aviation and shipping fuel sold in the UK.]
Aviationand shipping. ICAO and IMO, the international agencies for aviation and shipping, have adopted targets to tackle emissions. The scenarios in this report go beyond those targets, suggesting increased ambition and stronger levers will be required in the long run. We will write to the Government later this year on its approach to aviation, building on the advice in this report.
GHG removals: Aviation stands out as an obvious sector that could require removals to offset its emissions – either through CORSIA (the international aviation industry’s planned trading scheme), the EU ETS or unilaterally the UK could support a net-zero target for aviation, requiring that all emissions are offset by removals.
Do it now’: UK must set zero-carbon target for 2050, say official advisers
Committee says legally binding target is necessary, achievable and could spur global action
The UK government must immediately set a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, its official advisers have said, signalling an end to the nation’s role in driving climate change.
Doing so will be challenging, said the Committee on Climate Change, meaning the end of petrol and diesel cars and gas boilers, less meat on plates, quadrupling clean electricity generation and planting an estimated 1.5bn trees.
It will require tens of billions of pounds of investment every year, the CCC said – about 1-2% of Britain’s GDP. But not acting would be far more costly and the changes would deliver a cleaner and healthier society, the advisers said, as well as potentially bolstering the UK economy and jobs.
The CCC’s request for urgent action comes after Labour, Scottish National party and the Welsh assembly declared a climate emergency. It also follows a week of high-profile protests by the Extinction Rebellion group and Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who inspired the global school strikes, telling the UK government that its support for fossil fuels and airport expansion is “beyond absurd”.
The UK is forecast to miss existing carbon targets in 2025 and 2030. Hitting zero emissions in 2050 will require a leap in the ambition of government policy, particularly on heating and transport.
The CCC target includes flying and shipping and all greenhouse gases,and allows no offsetting of emissions abroad, making it the toughest of any major economy.
The CCC said it could prove a vital catalyst in unlocking matching pledges from other countries. The current plans of the world’s nations would lead to 3C of warming and catastrophic damage.
The former environment secretary John Gummer, now Lord Deben, the chair of the CCC, said the zero emissions target for 2050 must be passed into law immediately. “We [must] do it now. The urgency is not just a matter of a shortness of time, but the quicker you do it, the cheaper it is.”
Referring to the climate protests, he added: “Recent events have shown how strongly people feel.”
Chris Stark, the chief executive of the CCC, said planning to cut emissions rapidly could begin as soon as the zero emissions target was set. “I would like to see it happen as soon as possible, preferably before the big UN summit in September,” he added.
António Guterres, the UN secretary general, is demanding nations bring ambitious pledges to that summit to deliver the action needed.
Gummer said cutting emissions to zero would incur significant costs but would not lower living standards if the costs were shared in a fair way.
“We are not asking people to lead a miserable life, we are looking to have as fulfilled a life as today, but to do it in a way that takes responsibility for the future by respecting the planet which gives us life,” he said. “We would have cleaner air and we would live in a better society.”
As a wealthy nation, and one with a long history of carbon emissions, the UK had a responsibility to lead in the fight against global warming, Gummer said. “If we want the world to win then we have got to set that example.”
The CCC target is for “net zero” because some activities, such as flying and farming, will unavoidably produce some emissions in 2050. But these will be balanced by taking carbon out of the air by growing trees or burying CO2 under the ground.
The government did not immediately accept the recommendations but Greg Clark, the business secretary, whose department has responsibility for climate change, said: “This report sets us on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely.”
Rain Newton-Smith, the chief economist of the business group the CBI, said: “The CCC recommendations mark a new dawn for climate change action in the UK. Recent protests have shown the strength of public passion and sense of urgency. What we need now is a supportive and timely response from the government.”
Steve Waygood, the chief responsible investment officer of Aviva Investors, said: “The CCC’s report makes a significant contribution, showing that a net zero economy is necessary, feasible and desirable.”
Businesses including Siemens, Legal & General, BT, Thames Water, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Coca-Cola all backed the target.
There is wide political support for the 2050 net zero target, with almost 200 MPs already in favour. Michael Howard, a former Tory party leader and now a peer, said: “The science is clear – we must not shirk from this challenge, nor should we be afraid of it.”
Laurence Tubiana, who was France’s climate change ambassador when the Paris deal was sealed, said the CCC report was hugely important, adding: “I look forward to seeing many other countries in Europe, and beyond, follow suit.”
Many scientists backed the CCC report. Prof Paul Ekins of University College London said: “Hopefully it will lay to rest once and for all the misperception that deep decarbonisation is either impossibly difficult or impossibly expensive.”
But Prof Mark Maslin, also at UCL, said: “The zero-carbon target is essential, but the date of 2050 is too far in the future. The UK must adopt a 2030 zero-carbon target.”
Responding to the Net Zero report by the Committee on Climate Change, Paul McGuinness (Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition), said:
“It’s notable that the Committee on Climate Change has gone out of its way to state that aviation must contribute to its new target of net-zero emissions by 2050 – no doubt mindful that aviation has doubled its emissions since 1990, despite a 40% fall across the whole economy”.
“This new target will almost certainly mean that Heathrow, already the largest single source of carbon emissions in the UK, will be unable to expand – unless government punitively offsets it with ham-fisted restrictions on regional economic activity and, in the process, surrenders any hope of creating a fairer, more balanced economy”.
Letter from Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC – to Grayling on “Aviation 2050” the DfT’s aviation strategy green paper
February 13, 2019
In a letter to Chris Grayling, dated 12th February, Lord Deben provides the Committee on Climate Change’s views on the current aviation strategy green paper consultation, Aviation 2050 – The future of UK aviation [the aviation green paper]. He says “You will be aware that my Committee has been asked by Ministers to offer advice on the implications of the Paris Agreement for the UK’s statutory framework, including when ‘net-zero’ emissions can be achieved. A stronger UK target would require more effort from all sectors, including aviation. We intend to provide an updated view on the appropriate long-term ambition for aviation emissions within our advice on the UK’s long-term targets. We will publish our report in spring. Following that, we will write to you directly to set out the implications for the Aviation Strategy.” It also says: “The final white paper should further clarify that this will be met on the basis of actual emissions, rather than by relying on international offset credits.” And “Achieving aviation emissions at or below 2005 levels in 2050 will require contributions from all parts of the aviation sector,… It will also require steps to limit growth in demand. In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered over the long-term.” Read the whole letter.
Government tries to deny its climate responsibility to aim for 1.5C temperature rise, in pushing for 3rd Heathrow runway
January 14, 2019
The pre-trial hearing for the series of legal challenges against the Government’s decision to expand Heathrow takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday 15th January. In legal correspondence between the defendant (Government) and one of the claimants, Plan B Earth, the Government argues that “[Plan B] is wrong to assert that “Government policy is to limit warming to the more stringent standard of 1.5˚C and “well below” 2˚C’. This means that the Government is effectively denying that its own policy is to limit warming to the level that has been agreed internationally is required to avoid climate breakdown. The legal challenge brought by Plan B Earth and Friends of the Earth assert that the Government decision to proceed with Heathrow expansion was unlawful as it failed to appropriately consider climate change. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell described the case as “the iconic battleground against climate change”. The Committee on Climate Change had previously expressed surprise that neither the commitments in the Climate Change Act 2008 nor the Paris Agreement (2015) were referenced in the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement (aka. the plans for a 3rd Heathrow runway).This is a huge inconsistency.