UK needs 80% emissions cuts report warns

The UK can and should cut its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, joint research by a leading think tank and wildlife groups has concluded.

The report, published by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), WWF and the RSPB, said the Government’s current target of 60% is inadequate and based on out-dated science.

The three organisations called for the government to set more ambitious targets in its Climate Change Bill and tackle the sticky subject of aviation emissions to stay within the 2°C global warming threshold.

Researchers concluded the cuts were possible, but would slow down economic growth by 2-3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

However, they argued that the economy would still triple in size and in 2052, it would reach the same level experts have predicted it will reach by 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario.

The report recommends switching to low-carbon technologies in the electricity sector, reducing emissions from the production of heat, improving vehicle efficiency and the use of biofuels, and significantly constraining the growth in aviation to achieve an 80% reduction.

Lisa Harker, co-director of IPPR, said: “The Government’s current target for carbon reductions of 60% by 2050 is inadequate.

“If we are to play our part in preventing dangerous climate change, we need to be aiming for 80%.

“For this to be achieved we would need a radical shift in the pace and scale of investment in low carbon technologies.”

Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF UK, said: “All the science shows us that to keep below the critical threshold of 2°C global warming, countries like the UK need to cut emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

“This report shows that it can be done and it is affordable, providing we start now.”

The report has been published ahead of the second reading of the Government’s draft Climate Change Bill, which ministers announced last week had been amended to instruct a panel of MPs to review the 60% target and decide whether it should be increased.

Kate Martin

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