Committee on Climate Change urge new UK climate policies
cuts brought about by the recession, say government advisors.
insulation and transport.
to bring in new energy legislation within its first year.
in which UK greenhouse gas emissions plummeted by 8.6%, mainly due to the recession
but also because of increased fossil fuel prices.
emissions,” said CCC chairman Lord Adair Turner.
activity, and not from new measures being introduced to tackle climate change.
step change, in order that the UK can ensure a low-carbon recovery.”
Electricity generation, where the market needs to be reformed to take account
of strategic priorities, with new “carrots and sticks” persuading generators to
adopt low-carbon technologies, including early demonstration of “clean gas” technology
and perhaps a minimum price on carbon
A greater push towards home insulation Setting more ambitious targets for the number of electric cars on the road, and
protecting funds aimed at speeding their introduction
Encouraging farmers to use fertilisers more efficiently, reducing emissions and
2009,” said CCC chief executive David Kennedy.
to meet our carbon budget and European targets for renewables.
in the UK, we’ve talked a good game, but we’ve seen that emissions haven’t reduced
enough as a result of policies.”
commonly used national, European and global policy.
and a halving of methane emissions.
that the 8.6% fall from 2008 to 2009 was the largest single-year decline in the
target from the current 34% emission cut to 42% – the UK’s projected share should
the EU move from its current 20% target to 30%, as the government is urging.
Huhne said: “As the Climate Change Committee makes clear, we mustn’t rely on economic
recession to cut emissions.
and it must be locked into the fabric of our economy in good times and bad.”
efficiency through its “Green Deal” scheme, and was working to to create a Green
Investment Bank to help low carbon investment.
key areas, including electric transport, reforming the electricity industry, and
how fast home insulation would proceed and how it would be funded,.
in two or three years if we get the policies in place now,” he said.
the test of the government will be the policies they put in place over the next
one to two years.”
business, and said that the future for those companies must lie in low-carbon
engines, notably those powered by electricity.
and the Committee on Climate Change is right to call for a step change,” said
Keith Allott, head of climate change with WWF UK.
the foundations for a green economic recovery, and also allow the UK to show true
leadership in Europe and internationally.”
to highlight the importance of our built environment.
buildings, which will not only put us on a cost-effective fast-track to cutting
carbon, it will provide much needed employment in the construction and property
include international aviation or shipping, and the do not include the carbon
“embodied” in the goods we buy from abroad.
on the progress that Government is making in meeting carbon budgets and in reducing
emissions of greenhouse gases.
emissions data and determine whether emissions reductions have occurred as a result
of the recession, or, as a result of other external factors. We assess Government’s
progress towards achieving emissions reductions in 4 key areas of: Power, Buildings
and Industry, Transport and Agriculture.
Meeting Carbon Budgets – ensuring a low-carbon recovery – 30 June 2010 Full report (3.78MB.pdf) Executive Summary (1.08MB.pdf)
The Committee has already provided a high-level
assessment of international shipping emissions in the
context of giving advice on the 2050 target. Further
more detailed work is required to underpin advice
on inclusion of shipping and aviation in carbon
budgets (see below).
of bioenergy – biomass, biogas, biofuels – are
potentially key to reducing emissions (e.g. in power,
heat, surface transport, aviation, shipping, etc.).
However, there is uncertainty as regards the level
of sustainable biofuels given rising food demand
and therefore constraints on available land for
growth of feedstock. The Committee has provided
a preliminary analysis of bioenergy in the context
of the review of UK aviation emissions, and will set
out scenarios in the context of the advice on the
fourth budget. Further detailed work is required
to underpin this high-level analysis, both to inform
advice on inclusion of international aviation and
shipping in carbon budgets (see below), and to
provide more confidence on options for meeting
the fourth budget.
and shipping in carbon budgets. This advice
is required under the Climate Change Act. The
Committee previously recommended that
international aviation and shipping should be in the
2050 target, and that international aviation should
be reflected in decisions on carbon budgets. The
Government implicitly accepted this advice, both
in adopting the 2050 aviation target, and in its
modelling of pathways to 2050. However, a formal
decision on whether the net carbon account should
be defined to include international aviation and
shipping is required in 2012 under the Climate
Change Act, following advice from the Committee.
This will build on high-level advice on inclusion of
aviation and shipping as part of the broad work on
the fourth carbon budget.
consider emission trends, progress reducing
emissions and evidence of the step change
and here are the amazing implications.
they base their climate change policies are a work of science fiction. The
sides to accept this falsehood, and to pretend that the challenge is far smaller
than it is.
2007 figures) should be 950Mt. The government artificially excludes the greenhouse
gas emissions caused by the goods we import and the international travel we commission.
It’s not hard to see why ministers choose to overlook these figures. If just the
outsourced emissions (gases released in producing goods we import) are counted,
all the cuts the UK claims to have made since 1990 would be cancelled out – and
Carnegie Institution for Science
programme, on which the government bases its boast that we’re a world leader in
reducing pollution, results from the collapse of our manufacturing base and its
(not CO2) caused by
or very nearly 50% of the 2007 total (636Mt). The figure would have been even
higher had the team included the net 40Mt of emissions which
foreign tourists holidaying here have been subtracted).
should shake up the debate and change our view of what the UK has achieved.
playing with the calculator, at first I skipped over the top category. This is
because, like many environmentalists, most of my work has been focused on efforts
to tackle our direct consumption of energy: the heat and electricity we use at
home and in offices, and the fuel we use for transport. I immediately ran into
trouble. However many wind turbines and nuclear power plants I commissioned, however
many drivers I shoved on to the railways and businessmen I dragged kicking and
screaming out of aeroplanes, I couldn’t get the totals down by anything like the
required amount. Only then did I notice how great a proportion of our emissions
come from manufacturing and consumption.
be half-aware of the scale of this issue, but somehow, in the midst of all the
excited debates about how our electricity should be generated, our homes improved
and our transport networks run, I had managed to forget it. So it was a shock
to discover that manufacturing and consumption (if you include the construction
industry) accounts for 541Mt of our emissions, or 57% of the true total. This
is a good bit higher than I thought in 2006, because the sector’s impact is massively
boosted by the outsourced emissions the official figures don’t count. The great
majority of the UK’s offshore total results from our consumption of foreign goods.
The exclusion of these figures from official accounts is one of the reasons why
we have neglected this sector.
imported goods (minus food) we consume; 141Mt arises from the energy used by UK
industries; 87Mt from all food production and consumption (onshore and offshore);
19Mt from industrial process emissions (the CO2 released by chemical processes
like cement manufacture); 23Mt from the waste we create and 48Mt from the freight
vehicles (some of them excluded from official figures) required to move our stuff
about the need to reduce the consumption of goods, but specifically – with figures
attached – about the need to reduce the direct consumption of energy. But however
well we insulate our homes, change our travel habits, alter the electricity supply
and switch to more efficient appliances, however much the public sector cleans
up its act and the efficiency of commercial buildings is improved, we’ll still
be only scratching the surface of the problem. The real issue is not our direct
consumption of energy but the greenhouse gases embodied in the goods we buy. It
strikes me that in focusing on direct consumption I’ve helped to give both the
government and business an unduly easy ride.
have chosen not to try out the calculator (
parties: they all seek to boost economic growth by raising consumption, but consumption
has already pushed greenhouse gas levels way beyond the point that they consider
sustainable. You can pursue a policy of economic growth and reduced carbon emissions
only by engineering a fudge of the kind the calculator exposes: offshoring one
third of our emissions, most of which arise from the goods we consume. The impacts
of rising consumption are hidden by excluding them from national accounts.
that economic growth is the problem and that current levels of consumption cannot
be sustained. It’s time we called out the other parties on their failure to acknowledge,
let alone tackle, this contradiction. And it’s time we all recognised that consumption
is the big issue.