Climate Change Committee: Next 5 years crucial for adaptation
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has published its first report under the new Parliament on the UK's progress towards meeting emissions reduction targets.
The CCC found that the UK has made "good progress", but warns that decisions made in the next five years will have an enormous impact on whether the UK successfully adapts to and limits global warming.
"The most cost-effective approach to dealing with climate change requires steady progress over many years," said the report.
As a result it calls for policy clarity on issues such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Levy Control Framework, to encourage long-term investments in green infrastructure.
The Committee also reiterates its support for a wide spectrum of low carbon technology including renewables, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear energy.
The CCC was set up in 2008, following the passage of the Climate Change Act. Its role is to advise Parliament on the best path to the 80% reduction target and whether measures to adapt to ongoing changes are appropriate.
The report contained detailed recommendations for how the Government should continue to tackle climate change in five key areas: Electricity, Transport, Infrastructure, Buildings, and Land and Water management.
Under Electricity, the report says the Government must "ensure the power sector can invest with a 10-year lead time". To do this, it says the Government should set a carbon objective for the power sector in the 2020s and extend funding under the Levy Control Framework to match project timelines (i.e. ten years for offshore wind).
The report also calls for urgent action in other areas of infrastructure to avoid ‘locking in’ high carbon pathways. Recommendations include the development of heat networks and CCS.
One of the largest sections of the report is devoted to buildings, where the CCC tells the Government to extend the Renewable Heat Incentive to 2020, set out the future of the Energy Company Obligation beyond 2017 and develop a strategy for homes at high flood risk.
Friends of the Earth’s senior climate campaigner Simon Bullock said the “timely” report would turn up the heat on the Government ahead of crucial decisions on new runways and coal that could “lock us in to decades of pollution”.
He added: “As communities around the UK increasingly reject the Government’s fossil fuel fixation, it’s time for a fresh approach to the challenges we face.
"Ministers must listen to the alternatives recommended by its official advisor: more support for clean energy, better insulated homes and a huge energy efficiency drive.
“And with climate change super-charging our weather, Ministers need to come up with an answer for how they're going to protect households from increasing flooding and heat waves.”