Emission cuts threatened by economic recovery
Britain is not on course to meet its climate change targets for reducing carbon emissions, the Government is bluntly warned today.
Only a step change in effort, brought about by a range of new policies ranging from boosting numbers of electric cars to reforming the electricity market, will ensure that the UK's legally binding "carbon budgets" can be complied with by 2020 and beyond, according to the independent Committee on Climate Change.
In its second progress report to Parliament, the committee cautions that the sharp fall in UK greenhouse gas emissions of 8.6 per cent seen last year is almost entirely due to the recession, and that the proportion of the drop due to actual climate policies is but "a fraction" of the total. When the economy recovers, the committee warns, the rate of reduction due will not be adequate to achieve the 34 per cent reduction in CO2 (on 1990 levels) by 2020, to which the Government is already committed – let alone the 42 per cent reduction to which Britain will move if a tougher target can be agreed with the rest of the EU.
"The recession has created the illusion that progress is being made to reduce emissions," said the committee chairman, Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, who as Adair Turner was the director general of the Confederation of British Industry.
"Although emissions have declined substantially, our analysis shows that this is almost wholly due to a reduction in economic activity, and not from new measures being introduced to tackle climate change. So we are repeating our call for new policy approaches to drive the required step change, in order that the UK can ensure a low-carbon recovery."
The committee was set up to monitor the performance of the government in implementing the 2008 Climate Change Act, which made the UK the first country in the world to have a legally binding long-term framework to cut carbon emissions. Britain is doing this through a series of five-yearly carbon budgets which have to be met, by law.
Today's report is a candid signal to the new coalition, both parties of which have stressed their commitment to tackling global warming , that unless it acts decisively and quickly with a range of new initiatives, it will fail. Four areas in particular are highlighted: electric cars, buildings insulation, agriculture and reform of the energy market. The committee would like to see Britain running a fleet of 1.7m electric cars, which have zero CO2 emissions, by 2020 – at present there are thought to be only a few hundred electric vehicles on the roads.
Yet it is concerned that £260m in the budget of the Department for Transport, earmarked for price support for buyers, and for setting up a battery-charging network, may be swept away on the forthcoming cuts to reduce the deficit. "We would like to keep that funding for the electric car market," said the committee secretary, David Kennedy.
Secondly, the committee would like to see new rules for how farmers apply nitrogen fertilisers to the land - which can release nitrogen oxides, themselves greenhouse gases. Thirdly, it wants a comprehensive programme of home insulation, which addresses all the barriers stopping people investing in domestic energy efficiency.
And fourthly, it would like to see a reorganisation of the current, liberalised energy market to make it more attractive to investors to put their money in low-carbon power generation, including a government-supported minimum price for carbon.
Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Killer plants: A handy guide to the hidden dangers in your garden
Green movement must escape its 'white, middle-class ghetto', says Friends of the Earth chief Craig Bennett
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Black teen in critical condition after store employee 'shoots him for stealing 79-cent pack of cookies'
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is the UK's leading...
£23172 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading and fastest growing h...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an experienced Resident...