Sustainability professionals pile pressure on Government to accept Fifth Carbon Budget

A new survey has revealed that environmental and sustainability professionals are overwhelmingly in favour of recent recommendations for the UK's Fifth Carbon Budget, while separate academic report has concluded that the adoption of those proposals could help deliver long-term economic growth.

The poll, conducted during the past week by the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA), reveals that 87.3% of 1,569 green professionals believe the UK Government should take heed of the Carbon Budget recommendations set out by the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) last year.

The CCC recommended a Fifth Carbon Budget that would limit the country’s annual carbon emissions to an average of 57% lower between the period of 2028 and 2032, compared with 1990 levels. MPs have already urged the Government to accept the CCC’s proposals, warning that “we can’t afford any further delays”.

IEMA’s chief policy advisor Martin Baxter said: “The Government’s independent climate advisors have recommended a carbon budget that is consistent with the UK meeting its national and international emissions reductions in the most cost effective way. Government urgently needs to adopt this recommendation to provide long-term certainty to business and investors”. 

“The true test of climate leadership is about sustaining the implementation of policies to achieve long-term climate goals. Government must remain resolute in its support for the UK achieving the 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Fifth Carbon Budget provides the basis for giving confidence for investment, innovation, progressive transformation and effective action.”

Opportunity knocks

Meanwhile, a new report being launched in Westminster later today (10 May) has found no evidence that the adoption of more ambitious climate change policies to meet the Fifth Carbon Budget levels would harm the UK’s economic competitiveness, dispelling myths about the negative impacts of green policies.

In fact, the authors of the report – the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science – suggest that ambitious and well-designed climate change policies are likely to create fresh opportunities for the majority of British businesses to expand in fast-growing economies around the world.

“Climate change policies can increase the competitiveness of the UK in the long-term by encouraging greater innovation and efficiency,” the report reads. “Well-designed climate change policies could offer business opportunities in fast-growing global markets.

“The UK is well-positioned to benefit from a global transition to a more resource-efficient and renewable economy, provided flexible structural policies allow it to utilise its comparative advantages.”

Carbon forecasts

The UK’s Climate Change Act (2008) sets an 80% emissions reduction target for 2050, from 1990 levels, with a rolling programme of Carbon Budgets – each spanning a five-year period – to help meet that goal.

According to the CCC, the UK is currently on track to outperform the Second and Third Carbon Budgets, but off track to meet the Fourth, which covers the period 2023-27 and requires a 50% emissions reduction from 1990 levels.

The Fifth Carbon Budget must be written into law by Parliament by the end of June.

The IEMA survey and Grantham Institute report were released shortly after another report, from analyst EY, found that the UK’s attractiveness as a destination for investment in renewable energy has reached an all-time low, due to a series of unexpected green policy U-turns and the on-going uncertainty surrounding the role of renewables in our energy mix.

The Government’s seeming inclination for gas and oil over renewables to plug an expected energy supply gap has resulted in Britain falling to 13th place amongst 40 international renewable energy markets assessed in EY’S Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI).

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie