One week after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report warning that the global temperature increase will hit 1.5C by 2030, and 3-4C by the end of the century, the UK Government has today (15 October) agreed to seek advice on net-zero considerations.

Drawing on more than 4,000 pieces of scientific research, the IPCC’s report claims that limiting warming to 1.5C would require global carbon pollution to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2C pathway – and come down to zero by 2050, compared with 2075 for 2C. This would require carbon prices that are three to four times higher than for a 2C target. 

In a letter to CCC chair Lord Deben today, Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry, Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse and Welsh Energy Secretary Lesley Griffiths asked the CCC to provide updated advice on how the UK’s long-term emissions targets should be altered in the wake of the IPCC’s findings.

The letter states that the publication of the report has “deepened” the scientific base of evidence on the implications of strategies that would limit warming to 1.5C, as opposed to 2C. It calls on the CCC to provide the Government with options for the date by which the UK should set a net-zero carbon or net-zero greenhouse gas target by March 2019.

However, the letter also confirms that the UK’s existing third, fourth and fifth carbon budgets cannot be changed at this stage.

“We’re a world leader when it comes to tackling climate change and cutting carbon intensity, but the evidence is clear – governments, businesses and communities must take further action to confront one of the greatest global challenges we’ve ever faced,” Perry said. 

“The case for tackling climate change is starker than ever before. This Green GB Week, we need everyone – the government, businesses and communities – to renew their efforts to confront this global challenge head on while seizing one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time.”

The UK’s current target is a reduction of 80% of emissions by 2050 based on 1990 levels – but this could be set to change, depending on the CCC’s findings. The nation has already achieved a 40% reduction against this baseline.

Cross-party support

Today’s announcement was welcomed by the businesses, policymakers and public sector organisations which make up the Aldersgate Group, with the Group’s executive director Nick Molho claiming that the UK Government “deserves credit” for formally seeking the CCC’s advice.

“The development of a net-zero emissions target, which is receiving growing public and cross-party support, could provide significant supply chain growth and export opportunities for the UK if it is accompanied by a clear plan of action,” Molho said.

“In parallel with the CCC developing its advice, it is essential that the government continues to progress on its Clean Growth Strategy to deliver on current climate targets. Greater policy detail is urgently needed to drive energy efficiency improvements in commercial and domestic buildings, increase the take-up of zero-emission vehicles and support the growth of onshore renewable energy which is key to deliver affordable industrial power prices.”

Molho’s sentiments were echoed by Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) member and former Conservative Party leader Lord Howard, who said in a statement that the move was a “logical response” to the IPCC’s findings.

“Experience shows we have nothing to fear from decarbonisation, given the UK’s G7-leading success in reducing emissions while growing our economy,” Howard said.

 “I congratulate the Prime Minister for this move and look forward to hearing the CCC’s advice in good time on how Britain can best move to a net-zero economy.”

BEIS and edie partner for Green GB Week

The letter from the UK Government was sent on the opening day of Green GB Week. Running from Monday through to Friday, Green GB Week will celebrate the nation’s leadership on climate change – marking the 10-year anniversary of the Climate Change Act – while highlighting the business opportunities of low-carbon, resource-efficient growth.

As an official media partner of Green GB Week, edie is hosting an exclusive Science Based Targets Webinar on Thursday (18 October) at 2pm, allowing businesses to explore how carbon-reduction targets made in line with climate science can be used to future-proof business growth.

Running on Thursday 18th October at 2pm (the day of Green GB Week which is dedicated to ‘business action’), the Science Based Targets Webinar will include presentations from BT, Capgemini, Signify and The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, followed by a live audience Q&A about how to adopt science-based targets in your business.

The Science Based Targets webinar will be free to watch on Thursday at 2pm, and can be registered for here.

Sarah George

Comments (1)

  1. Alan Tootill says:

    The 2015 Infrastructure Act set up the DUTY of the government to consult the CCC. It is hardly a big feather in their cap that they turn to the CCC for further advice. But what is this beyond prevarication? Claire Perry promotes a "Green" week. But isn’t it ironic that the first fracking since 2011 is scheduled for today. A fracking enabled by her government which overturned local opposition at all levels – community, parish council – Borough and County councils.

    Sadly, the government’s response to previous CCC reports has been less than all-embracing.

    Frankly this does nothing to convince anyone outside the Tory-hugging industry ranks that this government is interested in doing more than propping itself up while the major other issue of Brexit will determine its future. Claire Perry is judged by her previous and current actions as caring little about serious action to prevent climate change.

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