The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) made its latest recommendation on the UK’s fifth carbon budget in a letter sent to Energy Secretary Amber Rudd today (28 January).

The Parliamentary climate watchdog had initally suggested a 57% cut back in November 2015, but promised to write to Rudd in early 2016 to set out how the outcome of COP21 may affect the target.

Despite the Paris agreement calling for efforts to limit global warming to 1.5C, the CCC is not ramping up its ambition and is sticking with its initial recommendations.

The CCC wrote: “The Paris agreement has greater long-term global ambition than current UK targets assume. But the pledged contributions by the EU and other have not changed. On that basis, we repeat our recommendation that the fifth carbon budget be legislated at 1,765MtCO2e.”

That carbon target – which equates to a 57% cut in emissions between 2028-2032 compared to 1990s levels – must now be voted upon in Parliament.

Plan of action

The CCC letter lays out some policy recommendations for achieving the 57% target. It calls for an extension to the Levy Control Framework beyond 2020; the ‘urgent development’ of a new approach to carbon capture and storage (CCS); continued support for electric vehicles; and better integration of efficiency into UK buildings.

The CCC will deliver a progress report on these issues to Parliament in June.

The letter also specifically refers to the Government’s recent controversial decision to scrap a £1bn funding programme for the commercialisation of CCS. “Our estimates (and others) suggest the costs of meeting the 2050 target will be twice as high without CCS,” it states.

“The recent funding decision must not and does not exclude CCS permanently from playing a significant role in reducing UK emissions, provided and alternative approach is implemented quickly.

Friends of the Earth has described the CCC’s recommendation not to increase the UK’s climate targets as “desperately disappointing”.

The campaign group’s chief executive Craig Bennett said: “Last month, the international community agreed to ‘pursue efforts’ to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C – the Committee on Climate Change should have provided comprehensive advice and guidance on what measures the UK needs to take to help achieve this. 

“The positivity and back slapping of Paris will fade very soon, unless our official advisory and regulatory bodies realise what governments signed up to in December – and work out what it means for action back home.”

Commentators on social media have been equally critical.

The CCC was established under the Climate Change Act to advise the UK Government on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Act also called for five-yearly carbon budgets en route to an 80% emissions reduction by 2050 – similar to the global ‘ratcheting mechanism’ framework set out in Paris. 

Brad Allen

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