Climate Change Committee says there needs to be a reinvigorated UK effort on climate change

The Climate Change Committee says how far Glasgow can be considered a success can only be assessed by the actions that follow over the coming year and beyond. There is now a path to expected global warming of under 2°C, but only if all the ambition in new mid-century Net Zero targets is delivered, alongside national 2030 emissions targets. Current climate policies around the world do not come close to achieving these aims. For the UK it says “The Glasgow Climate Pact makes notable reference to ‘phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’. The UK has a duty to act on this in common with other countries. The CCC recommends that the Treasury initiates a review of the role of the tax system in delivering Net Zero, including the role of tax in achieving a higher and more consistent carbon price across the economy. Low carbon prices are effectively a subsidy. No fossil fuel subsidies should be classed as ‘efficient’.”   The CCC did not mention it, but the absence of any fuel tax on jet fuel, and no VAT on air travel, and effectively a subsidy to air travel. The CCC has repeatedly said that air travel should not be expanded unless there is effective progress on cutting aviation carbon emissions.  Demand for air travel must be reduced.
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COP26 must launch a reinvigorated UK effort on climate change

2.12.2021

(Climate Change Committee)

COP26: Key outcomes and next steps for the UK December 2021

COP26 concluded with a material increase in ambitions to reduce emissions across the world and the launch of a raft of new initiatives and sector deals. This is a step forward, but how far Glasgow can be considered a success can only be assessed by the actions that follow over the coming year and beyond.There is now a path to expected global warming of under 2°C, but only if all the ambition in new mid-century Net Zero targets is delivered, alongside national 2030 emissions targets. Current climate policies around the world do not come close to achieving these aims.Following COP26, global temperatures are set to rise by around 2.7°C. The new ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ focuses on the 2020s as the critical period for accelerating climate action. Only concrete steps by 2030 will close the growing gap between ambition for 1.5°C and real-world delivery. This is a crucial 12 months.

That’s the conclusion of a new independent assessment of COP26 and the critical next steps for the UK, published today by the Climate Change Committee (CCC). Chairman, Lord Deben, said:

“The UK must not walk away after COP26. Glasgow was a step forward in global efforts to address climate change, including a genuine increase in ambition to reduce emissions worldwide. We also saw important technical advances, with new rules agreed for reporting emissions and on international carbon trading, and multiple initiatives and sector deals. This is real and welcome progress, but success depends on what happens now.

“The next year is critical for climate action in the UK and internationally. At home, we need to walk the talk and urgently deliver actions in the Net Zero Strategy. Globally, the UK must continue to encourage stronger action on climate and insist on rapid emissions reductions and stronger adaptation through all diplomatic channels. The ultimate success of the Glasgow Climate Pact will be measured in climate risks averted, not words on a page.”

The CCC has made a series of new recommendations to Government, for action at home and internationally.  https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/COP26-Key-outcomes-and-next-steps-for-the-UK-Final.pdf

Implications for the UK

The UK already has one of the most ambitious 2030 targets for reducing emissions in the world, designed to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal. But the UK does not yet have all the steps in place to deliver it.

  • UK efforts should focus on strengthening delivery of the Net Zero Strategy, rather than inflating the gap between ambition and implementation. Key steps to complete the Strategy need to be brought forward swiftly, including a robust plan to tackle emissions from agriculture and land.
  • The Glasgow Climate Pact makes notable reference to ‘phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’. The UK has a duty to act on this in common with other countries. The CCC recommends that the Treasury initiates a review of the role of the tax system in delivering Net Zero, including the role of tax in achieving a higher and more consistent carbon price across the economy. Low carbon prices are effectively a subsidy. No fossil fuel subsidies should be classed as ‘efficient’.
  • The UK’s commitment to the Glasgow Climate Pact can be further demonstrated with stronger actions to tackle the UK’s wider carbon footprint. These could include stronger product standards applied equally at home and to imported goods, carbon border adjustment mechanisms and trade levers, and encouragement of stronger corporate actions to decarbonise supply chains.
  • A strengthened UK NDC prior to COP27 could include stronger plans on climate change adaptation, informed by a clear vision for a well-adapted UK and backed by quantitative targets. Other options for strengthening the UK’s NDC include making it legally-binding, clarifying that emissions targets will be met without use of offsets, confirming a limited role only for CO2 removal, and including sector targets from the new Net Zero Strategy.

The UK’s international role

The UK continues to hold the COP Presidency for the next year, until COP27 in Egypt. This is a critical period, where a strong relationship forged with the Egyptian Presidency can secure crucial progress before Sharm el-Sheikh.

  • The UK must maintain its strong COP team with high-level leadership throughout the duration of the Presidency, recognising that decisions over the coming year are critical to the chances of limiting global temperature increase close to 1.5°C.
  • The UK has an important role in putting the completed Paris rules into action, including consideration of whether the new rules on international carbon trading might offer a new route for countries, including the UK, to support accelerated global ambition.
  • Key climate finance commitments made at Glasgow must also be delivered transparently, including a doubling of funding for adaptation, and establishing a constructive dialogue on loss and damage. The UK can also revisit its climate finance contributions, directing around half the finance to adaptation, and restore its commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on aid as soon as possible.

The CCC will continue to support the UK’s efforts through independent scrutiny of UK climate action. Over the coming months, the CCC will deepen its monitoring of progress, aiming to identify real-world indicators, and broaden its outlook to include key enablers such as public attitudes, business action, workers and skills, governance and costs and benefits of the Net Zero transition.

The CCC will publish a comprehensive assessment of UK progress in summer 2022.

https://www.theccc.org.uk/2021/12/02/cop26-must-launch-a-reinvigorated-uk-effort-on-climate-change/

 

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See earlier:

Climate Change Committee advises government to act to reduce demand for flying

The UK government’s independent advisors on climate, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), produced their assessment of the UK Net Zero Strategy, which was published on 19th October. On aviation the CCC say the government is not doing enough to reduce demand for flights. They have also not shown how to achieve their ambition of cutting the demand for road travel, or meat eating.  The CCC warns a “techno-centric” approach to cutting emissions adopted by the prime minister has a high risk of failure. Boris Johnson has regularly promised that climate change can be tackled without what he calls “hairshirtery”. Nick Eyre, Professor of Energy and Climate Policy at Oxford University said: “The PM’s headline about not changing the way we use energy is not just helpful – it’s unrealistic. We won’t reach climate goals unless there’s a combination of technology and behaviour change.”  The CCC warns that the Treasury still lacks policies to cut emissions. They point out that the government hopes for 10% of SAF used by planes by 2030, while the CCC consider it might be 2% (at best). They hope demand for flights will reduce, if not by government policy, by increased public awareness of the severity of global heating.

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Lord Deben – head of Climate Change Cttee – UK must drop plans for airport expansion

Lord Deben, the Chair of the Climate Change Committee, has told the Airport Operators Association that the UK must drop plans for airport expansion if it is to meet carbon reduction targets.  Lord Deben said “There is not any space for airport expansion … The idea we are going to have a whole lot of airports expanding – we are just not in that world.” Currently there are up to 10 UK airports planning physical expansion, including Heathrow and Gatwick.  Lord Deben said “The government has to make it easier and simpler to be good and hard and expensive to be bad. At the moment it is often more expensive and more complicated to be good….This is not about fiddling about around the edges … We’ve allowed climate change to get out of hand.”  Meanwhile a document produced by the government’s “nudge” unit (the Behavioural Insights Team), about necessary UK behaviour changes, was removed from the BEIS website.  It contained a few suggestions about reducing demand for air travel, including encouraging more domestic holidays and more rail travel to Europe – acknowledging that stopping British people wanting foreign holidays, by air, would be very, very hard.

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Chris Stark (CCC) on how aviation needs to cut its emissions, only using CCS – which it must pay for – as a last resort

The Head of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), Chris Stark, has given evidence to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on the aspirations of the aviation sector to get to “net zero” by 2050, and the government’s “jet zero” plan. He said aviation, unlike other transport sectors, was unlikely to meet targets for net zero by 2050.  The sector should pay for costly engineered carbon removal technologies (CCS) rather than rely on using the planting of trees to claim they are reducing CO2 emissions.  And these offsets and removal technologies should only be used as a last resort, after direct cuts of carbon and emissions by the industry itself. He said carbon removal technologies are not a “free pass” for the industry. Removals are expensive, and the sector should pay for them themselves – which would put up ticket prices. It was regrettable that the DfT’s transport decarbonisation plan had not mentioned the necessity of reducing air travel demand. There is a danger that the tech does not deliver. The plans need to be assessed every 5 years, and though that is a difficult choice for government, demand management may have to be considered in future.

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