MPs: end of recession will equal emissions rise

The influential Committee on Climate Change has called for a 'step change' in tackling rising emissions as it claims only the world-wide recession has slowed it.


The findings are set out in the committee’s second progress report to Parliament, which was published yesterday (June 30).

It reveals emissions of greenhouse gases have fallen over the past year, by 8.6%, but this is ‘almost entirely due’ to a reduction in economic activity caused by the recession and increased fossil fuel/ energy prices, ‘and is not’ the result of the implementation of measures to reduce emissions.

Achieving step change will, according to the committee, require new policies in at least four key areas:

1. Electricity market reform – To ensure that incentives for
investing in low-carbon power generation are strengthened, it is
crucial to proceed with the energy market reform that has been proposed
by the new Government. Before these new market arrangements are
introduced, there is a strong case for introducing a minimum price on
carbon (a carbon price underpin / floor). Action to support early
demonstration of coal and gas CCS projects is required.

2. Buildings – more clarity is required on how a national programme
to encourage energy efficiency measures in the home will be funded, how
householders will be incentivised to act, and the role of energy
companies, businesses, local authorities and private landlords in
helping to make buildings more efficient.

3. Transport – The Government should consider further first year
VED differentiation to encourage the purchase of more fuel efficient
cars. The Government should set ambitious targets for electric car
deployment in 2020 (e.g. the Committee’s analysis suggests that this
should be in the order of 1.7 million). This will require funding both
to ensure that the first electric cars are affordable, and to cover the
cost of a national battery charging network.

4. Agriculture – there is potential to go further than the current
target for reduction of emissions from agriculture (3 MtCO2 in 2020)
through measures relating to the way that livestock are fed,
application of fertiliser to soils, and anaerobic digestion.

Chair of the committee, Lord Adair Turner, said: “The recession has created the illusion that progress is being made to reduce emissions.

“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.

“Given new approaches, we are confident that individuals and business will respond, taking advantage of the affordable opportunities available to reduce emissions.”

Luke Walsh

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