CCC sets sixth carbon budget date, urges Treasury to ramp up net-zero plans

The UK has already met its first and second carbon budgets and is on track to meet the third - but off-course to meet the fourth ad fifth. Pictured: The SSE Ferrybridge coal power station

The budget will provide Ministers with advice on the volume of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions the UK can create between 2033 and 2037, if it is to keep to its 2050 net-zero goal.

It will be the first carbon budget to be created since the UK legislated for net-zero, with all other carbon budgets to date having been developed in line with the 2008 Climate Change Act’s original 2050 target of an 80% reduction in GHG emissions, against a 1990 baseline.

In a letter to the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke MP today (17 October), Lord Deben said the CCC will be publishing its advice on the sixth carbon budget three months ahead of its legal requirement to do so, to ensure the final budget is completed ahead of COP26 in December 2020.

“If the changes are to proceed at the rate required then an appropriate regime for public funding will be needed and the conditions for private investment must be right,” Lord Deben’s letter states.

“Sufficient certainty will be needed to keep the cost of capital as low as possible. Crucial to this will be a distribution of costs that is fair, and is also perceived to be fair, so that changes can proceed rapidly with support from society. The example of the ‘gilets jaunes’ protests in France is evidence of the importance of getting this right.”

Lord Deben’s letter recommends that the Treasury’s upcoming review should be used to “develop a plan for funding decarbonisation and, most importantly, examine the distribution of costs for businesses, household and the Exchequer”.

Such plans, the letter states, should consider both long and near-term funding needs and policy implications.

Back on track?

According to the latest forecast from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the UK is on course to breach its fourth and fifth carbon budgets by 139 and 245 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) respectively.

Ministers have confirmed that the Government will carry forward emission reductions, which have already taken place, into its future carbon budgets in a bid to bridge these gaps.

This is despite recommendations from the CCC that such a move should not be completed, as it would make it “more difficult and expensive” for the UK to meet its long-term emissions targets.

Criticism has, unsurprisingly, been levelled at the Government over this decision – and its historic failures to address green policy gaps across sectors such as transport, housing, heating and nature conservation.

In a drive to rectify this, the Government this week announced new measures to “go further and faster” on net-zero, including policy mechanisms to decarbonise business buildings and transport, and to support the uptake of energy storage at scale.

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Sarah George

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