UK needs 60% cut by 2030 to make emissions targets

The influential Committee on Climate Change today (December 7) called on the UK to cut its emissions by 60% compared to 1990 levels over the next two decades.

In its report ‘The Fourth Carbon Budget – Reducing emissions through the 2020s’ the committee puts the case for creating a new marker in the battle to cut emissions.

Currently, Government most targets are aimed at cuts on 1990 emissions levels before 2050.

But to drive the fight against climate change the committee suggests a plan as part of a carbon budget for 2023 to 2027 and a target for emissions reductions in 2030, which would be halfway between now and 2050.

The recommended target for 2030 to cut emissions by 60% relative to 1990 levels, or 46% relative to current levels, needs a 62% emissions reduction from 2030 to meet the 2050 target in Britain’s Climate Change Act.

The committee estimates the recommended target can be achieved at a cost of less than 1% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or as it states in the report ‘a fraction of one year’s growth’ over the next two decades.

It also backs new carbon budgets should be legislated by summer 2011, as required under the Climate Change Act.

Committee on Climate Change chair Lord Adair Turner said: “We are recommending a stretching but realistic fourth carbon budget and 2030 target, achievable at a cost of less than 1% of GDP.

“Any less ambition would not be compatible with the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act.

“We therefore urge the Government to legislate the budget we have recommended, and to develop the policies required to cut emissions over the next two decades.

“The case for action on climate change is as strong as ever: climate science remains robust and suggests that there are very significant risks if we do not cut emissions. And countries acting now will gain economic benefits in an increasingly carbon constrained world.”

The CBI’s director of business environment, Dr Neil Bentley, backed the new 2030 target.

He said: “We support the UK’s existing climate change targets for 2020 and 2050 and businesses are already taking steps to measure and reduce their emissions.

“The Committee’s proposal for an extra staging post at 2030 could provide additional clarity for investors, but the feasibility of the proposed target would need to be examined in detail.

“Investors will only commit to low-carbon projects if they are confident about the policy framework in the long-term.

“The Government’s forthcoming announcements on reform of the electricity market and work to simplify the Carbon Reduction Commitment will be crucial tests.”

Luke Walsh

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