Cuts in carbon emissions of up to 60% are necessary, says UK academic

The world's governments must be willing to go far beyond the Kyoto Protocol commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions if climate change trends are to stabilise, says the chair of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP).

Sir Tom Blundell outlined RCEP’s views on the future of emissions policy in an interview for Costing the Earth, a BBC Radio 4 environmental issues programme. RCEP’s report on options for UK energy policy will be published next month, and will discuss the extent to which carbon emissions need to be reduced.

“We need to move to something like a 60% reduction in emissions if in fact we’re going to level off at CO2 levels in the atmosphere which will give a tolerable effect on the climate,” Blundell told Costing the Earth presenter Alex Kirby.

“60% is the same figure that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came up with some time ago,” Kirby told edie, but Kirby admitted that the need to go beyond Kyoto commitments has not yet been realised by the majority of the UK public.

Blundell believes that renewable energies must take over a large share of the energy market from fossil fuels, but he sees a continuing, albeit diminished role for fossil fuels as ‘back up’. Technological fixes, such as carbon sequestration, won’t be the answer, according to Blundell, although sequestration could be a solution for a time in the future when there are small-scale carbon emissions to deal with.

“We know sequestration is technologically possible, but it’s a question of how much it will cost,” says Kirby.

The airing of Blundell’s interview several weeks prior to publication of RCEP’s Energy & the Environment report has, according to the Times ruffled a few feathers at RCEP. Kirby says that Blundell was told that the interview would air on 11 May and that Blundell either didn’t realise or forgot that the timing would mean that details of the report would be broadcast in advance of publication.

Costing the Earth is broadcast weekly on Thursdays at 9pm until 1 June.

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