The UK must “set and vigorously pursue” a bold new climate change target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net-zero’ levels by 2050 – replacing the current target of an 80% reduction against 1990 levels – according to a major new report from the Committee on Climate Change. The report, published today (2 May), comes after the UK Government instructed the CCC to provide advice on the feasibility of a net-zero carbon target – a move the Committee believes could be achieved within the same cost envelope as the current less-ambitious Climate Change Act. It follows months of calls from MPs and businesses alike to enshrine a net-zero target into UK law – a discussion that has been amplified by the recent climate school strikes and Extinction Rebellion protests. Just yesterday, During a debate at the House of Commons, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion for the UK parliament to become the first in the world to declare a climate emergency – recognition that legislative action to date has been insufficient. In a symbolic moment, the motion was passed. However, the report does also note that some home nations are currently better equipped to deliver more rapid decarbonisation than others. Scotland, for example, is encouraged by the CCC to target net-zero emissions by 2045 – due to a greater potential to depollute its economy compared to the rest of the UK – whereas Wales should target a 95% reduction in emissions by 2050 (from the same 1990 baseline).
Edie 2nd May 2019 read more »
The i News 2nd May 2019 read more »
The UK should legislate for and reach a net-zero emissions goal by 2050, so as to end its contribution to global warming within 30 years. That is the verdict of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the official adviser to UK government and devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. Its 277-page advice is published today in response to a government request sent in October 2018. The net-zero target should cover all greenhouse gases and should include international aviation and shipping, but exclude the use of emissions credits, the advice says. This would put the UK “at the top of the pile” relative to other net-zero goals, says CCC chief executive Chris Stark. The goal could be met at a “manageable” cost, equivalent to 1-2% of GDP each year, the CCC says. But it would only be “credible” if accompanied by stronger policies to meet the new target, the CCC warns. In the scenarios laid out by the CCC, a large, reliable supply of electricity is vital to power everything from cars to heat systems. In its analysis, this is achieved primarily through an enormous rollout of offshore wind and other renewables, as the nation’s final coal plants are closed down. The committee says the goal of increasing the supply of low-carbon power fourfold by 2050 will require “consistently strong deployment” of renewables. The report says this should be supported by nuclear and CCS plants, in which biomass or gas are burned and their emissions captured. It notes that an upcoming Energy White Paper should support this target. Such deployment could include at least 75 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind, compared to 8GW today and the 30GW covered by the sector deal made by the government for 2030. In practice, this would consist of up to 7,500 turbines covering up to 2% of the UK seabed. At present there are nearly 2,000 turbines in UK waters; however, each turbine will be larger in future.
Carbon Brief 2nd May 2019 read more »
A recipe for climate optimism’: CCC plots course for net zero UK emissions by 2050. A number of backbench Conservative MPs are expected to voice opposition to the proposed new target, while green group’s hopes of curbing emissions from aviation were dealt a blow yesterday when the High Court rejected legal action against the expansion of Heathrow. At the same time several media outlets are likely to focus their coverage on the CCC’s recommendations for gas boilers and cookers to be phased out and for meat consumption to be curbed.
Business Green 2nd May 2019 read more »
Green leaders have come out in force to praise the Committee on Climate Change’s report – and requested immediate action from the government on the issues raised from its findings.
Edie 2nd May 2019 read more »
UK Parliament becomes first in the world to pass motion declaring a ‘climate emergency’. In a symbolic move, the House of Commons had declared a climate emergency, admitting the need for a cross-party approach that would enable the UK to set a world-leading standard on climate action.
Edie 1st May 2019 read more »
BBC 1st May 2019 read more »
Britain must plant billions of trees, says Committee on Climate Change. Almost three billion trees must be planted by 2050 to end Britain’s contribution to global warming, the government’s climate advisers have said. The landscape needs to be transformed and peoples’ habits will have to change drastically to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by the middle of the century, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says. Consumption of beef, lamb and dairy will need to fall by a fifth, while flying is likely to become more expensive. The CCC recommends banning sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 at the latest. It also calls for domestic gas boilers to be replaced with green alternatives. Low-carbon electricity supplies need to quadruple, potentially by building about 6,000 more offshore wind turbines, the advisers say.
Times 2nd May 2019 read more »
Britain must accelerate the switch away from petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric vehicles, the committee recommends. Two years ago the government pledged to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. Not only does the committee demand that this be brought forward to 2035 at the latest, and earlier if possible, but Chris Stark, its chief executive, argued that it was a “no brainer” to do so do because of cost reductions in electric vehicles. About 85 per cent of British homes are heated by boilers that use natural gas. The committee says that by 2050 almost all household heating will need to be low-carbon. This was already expected to be necessary to meet the existing targets in the Climate Change Act. More than ten years on, however, the committee says that the government still has “no serious plan” for achieving this. It needs to come up with one urgently — next year at the latest.
Times 2nd May 2019 read more »
Claire Perry: There are few subjects that unite people across generations and borders like climate change. But within days of each other last month, broadcast veteran Sir David Attenborough and teenage international climate campaigner Greta Thunberg both set out equally stark and uncompromising cases for action to protect our precious planet. Today, the CCC have provided us with a roadmap for ending our contribution to global warming for good, by dialling up our key policies across every sector of the economy. So now we must seriously consider the CCC’s detailed advice, and the costs and opportunities of adjusting our long-term target. Since 2016 we’ve been clear that we will legislate for a net zero emissions target, and I hope we will become the first major economy to do so. My message to Greta, Sir David and the thousands who have taken to the streets is this: we’ve heard your message and we agree: urgent action is required, and we will continue to work across government and with all of our parliament to save our precious planet – because there is no planet B.
Times 2nd May 2019 read more »
Q&A: The government has indicated it will take time to consider the committee’s response, but sources say Mrs May will accept the target. Legislation will then need to be passed. With broad support for tackling climate change, that is likely to be the easy bit. But, as the committee makes clear, the target is “not credible” unless it is accompanied by policies that enable it to be met. Tough policy choices lie ahead.
Times 2nd May 2019 read more »
Thermostats should be set to 19C to help tackle climate change, Government advisers recommend.
Telegraph 2nd May 2019 read more »
“Today we have a chance to lead the new Industrial Revolution,” Lord Deben says. The committee report reveals decisive action offers the UK a major economic headstart as the world wakes up to the need to tackle emissions. Meanwhile, inaction threatens to raise the cost of meeting an inevitable global battle. “Britain has a unique opportunity and it’s not one that we should pass up. If we want to have an economic future, we have to lead.” British business needs little convincing of the potential. Beyond those which already make up our green economy, the City’s largest investors, such as Aviva and Legal & General, have called for the Government to heed the call for tougher targets. They are joined by telecoms titan BT, industrial giant Siemens plus retailers John Lewis and Marks and Spencer among others. The committee’s vision of a zero-emission economy brings forward the end-date for sales of traditional combustion engine vehicles from 2040 to 2030, or 2035 at the latest. Meanwhile, low-cost renewable power should roll out with greater ambition and millions of carbon-absorbing trees should spring up across the country.
Telegraph 2nd May 2019 read more »
The UK government must immediately set a legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, its official advisers have said, signalling an end to the nation’s role in driving climate change. Doing so will be challenging, said the Committee on Climate Change, meaning the end of petrol and diesel cars and gas boilers, less meat on plates, quadrupling clean electricity generation and planting an estimated 1.5bn trees. It will require tens of billions of pounds of investment every year, the CCC said – about 1-2% of Britain’s GDP. But not acting would be far more costly and the changes would deliver a cleaner and healthier society, the advisers said, as well as potentially bolstering the UK economy and jobs. WWF, called for zero emissions by 2045, while Extinction Rebellion activists have said 2025. The CCC said the 2050 date could be brought forward if good progress was made.
Guardian 2nd May 2019 read more »
“Make no mistake, this report will change your life,” says Prof David Reay at the University of Edinburgh. “If the meticulous and robust expert advice here is heeded it will deliver a revolution in every facet of our lives, from how we power our homes and travel to work to the food we buy.” The government’s official advisers the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said on Thursday that the UK’s net greenhouse gas emissions should fall to zero by 2050, emphasising that the transformation is necessary, affordable and desirable. Setting the legally binding target, which has wide political support, will be the easy bit. But the scale of transformation needed to meet the target is enormous. By 2050, petrol and diesel cars should be a distant memory, ideally banned from sale in favour of electric vehicles two decades earlier. “2030 would be my ideal switchover date, but we have said 2035 at the latest to be cautious,” said Chris Stark, the chief executive of the CCC. The current date is 2040, but switching sooner will save people money, he said, as electric cars are cheaper in the long run. The cars will need a lot of electricity, meaning clean power generation must quadruple by 2050, the CCC said. That certainly means more offshore windfarms, but the cheapest option – onshore windfarms – are effectively banned in England. Big storage will also be needed, but battery costs are plummeting. Homes heated by natural gas will also be long gone, with the CCC saying no new home should be connected to the gas grid after 2025. Electrified heating will be more common, but hydrogen could be an alternative to natural gas, if it can be produced cleanly at scale.
Guardian 2nd May 2019 read more »
Business groups herald ‘new dawn for climate change action’ as landmark report published. Despite necessarily calling for major changes within our society, the report’s aims have been well received in many sectors including energy and business bodies as well as environmental and farming groups. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) which represents 190,000 businesses across the country has called the CCC report a “new dawn for climate change action” and is demanding a “step change in government policy” to meet the target. It also cited recent protests as indicative of the “sense of urgency” required to tackle the crisis. Matthew Fell, the chief UK policy director at the CBI, who said: “Business is up for the net zero challenge – and many companies have made their own pledges for a net zero target. This is partly driven by public demand for action on climate change. But there are also economic opportunities ahead.” Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said the report indicated nuclear power can continue to play a role in the UK’s power supply. He said: “The Committee on Climate Change’s report rightly highlights just how far we still need to go for the UK to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In decarbonising power, it highlights that we will need more low carbon sources of electricity – confirming other academic and expert reports – with nuclear continuing to play an integral part alongside renewables.”
Independent 2nd May 2019 read more »
The committee argues that some of the expense, such as the switchover to electric cars, may initially carry some higher upfront costs, but should ultimately create a net saving for consumers. The price of electric vehicles is expected to be lower than conventional cars by 2030. Technological improvements and efficiencies are also expected to eventually drive costs down, such as the sharp reductions in the cost of offshore wind. The committee also foresees a possible “industrial boost to the UK from being one of the early movers”. The committee report says that around half of the costs will be related to “moving from 80 per cent to 100 per cent” of emissions reduction. Flights could, however, become more expensive by 2035, report says, with aviation one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise. That could result in the industry being asked to meet the cost of some carbon removal and sequestration plans. What are the major challenges? The biggest problems are likely to concern heating – more than 80 per cent of UK homes rely on natural gas – as well as plans to develop carbon, capture and storage facilities. Moving UK homes on to hydrogen or electric heating is likely to be one of the most visible changes, though supporters compare it to the switchover to gas heating in the 1960s and 1970s. Carbon capture and storage has a chequered history with few commercial projects and some significant false starts. The government has stepped up support for carbon capture projects in the past year, though critics contend ministers are not doing enough. Air travel is also expected to keep growing under all the committee’s scenarios to become the biggest contributor to emissions by 2050, though the committee forecasts “more limited” demand growth.
FT 2nd May 2019 read more »
Former Labour party leader Ed Miliband, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and former Conservative MP Laura Sandys have launched a cross-party Environmental Justice Commission aimed at ushering in a UK Green New Deal. The MPs will act as chairs for the new Commission, which was set up by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). The aims of the Environmental Justice Commission are to “ally the issue of climate change with economic and social transformation”, namely through a Green New Deal. Outlining the ambitions of the new Commission in a joint opinion piece on the Guardian, the chairs said: “We need to mobilise a carbon army of workers to retrofit and insulate homes, cutting bills, reducing emissions and making people’s lives better. We need to move to sustainable forms of transport and zero-carbon vehicles as quickly as possible, saving thousands of lives from air pollution. “We need to end the opposition to onshore wind power and position ourselves as a global centre of excellence for renewable manufacturing. And we need to protect and restore threatened habitats, and to secure major transitions in agriculture and diets that are essential if we are to meet our obligations. Just in these areas of policy we already see an answer to the immediate economic concerns people have: jobs and hope.”
Edie 30th April 2019 read more »
Let’s seize the moment and create a Green New Deal for the UK. We are coming together across party lines to ally the issue of climate change with social transformation. Ed Miliband, Caroline Lucas and Laura Sandys
Guardian 30th April 2019 read more »
Matthew Farrow, executive director of the Environmental Industries Commission, said: “The CCC’s call for a net zero carbon target for 2050 is both necessary and achievable. But to deliver the target in ways which maintain public support, we will need more innovation to keep the economic costs of the net zero transition manageable and the necessary public behaviour changes acceptable. The UK has a strong environmental sector which is ready and willing to rise this challenge.” Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said: “Today’s report highlights the importance of urgent, concerted action to protect the UK’s economy and environment from the impacts of climate change. Future generations won’t forgive us if we don’t act together and with a sharp focus. “But to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, we must put in place the infrastructure we need to change how we travel and how we power and heat our homes and businesses. The key step is to ensure a rich mix of renewable energy sources. That’s why in the UK’s first National Infrastructure Assessment we called for at least 50% of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030, along with measures to speed up the delivery of lower carbon heating for our homes and the adoption of electric vehicles.
Infrastructure Intelligence 2nd May 2019 read more »
The UK should lead the global fight against climate change by cutting greenhouse gases to nearly zero by 2050, a report says. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) maintains this can be done at no added cost from previous estimates. Its report says that if other countries follow the UK, there’s a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100. Some say the proposed 2050 target for near-zero emissions is too soft and still risks harming the climate. But others will fear that the goal could damage the UK’s economy. The CCC – the independent adviser to government on climate change issues – said that, while it would not be able to hit the target sooner, 2050 was still an extremely significant – and positive – goal. The main author Chris Stark told me: “This report would have been absolutely inconceivable just a few years ago. People would have laughed us out of court for suggesting that the target could be so high.” The main change, he said, was the huge drop in the cost of renewable energy prompted by government policies to nurture solar and wind power. The CCC said England can eliminate emissions by 2050, while Scotland could go carbon-free sooner – by 2045. This is because Scotland has exceptional potential for planting trees (which absorb carbon dioxide) and it’s more suited to carbon capture and storage technology. Wales can only cut 95% of its emissions by 2050 because of its farm industry. Northern Ireland will follow England’s targets.
BBC 2nd May 2019 read more »
Ending the contribution of the UK to global warming within 30 years is a noble aim. Whether it is achievable is another matter. Britain has already cut emissions by 43 per cent since 1990 but that has largely been achieved through the relatively simple process of switching from coal to gas in power generation. Reducing emissions further will become progressively harder, especially as the Committee on Climate Change has avoided recommending severe restrictions on high-carbon activities, such as flying. Instead it makes heroic assumptions about the deployment of electric cars, heat pumps to replace gas boilers and, least convincingly, carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants. The UK will need five CCS “clusters” by 2050, the committee says, but there are only 18 in the world at present and none in Britain after the government cancelled a contest in 2015 for subsidies to build one. The biggest test, however, will be decarbonising heating and transport. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has described the government’s existing target of ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040 as “extremely challenging”. Replacing the 26 million gas boilers in homes with low or zero-carbon alternatives could prove costly.
Times 2nd May 2019 read more »
JOHN SAUVEN: Greenpeace has a plan to help politicians tackle the climate emergency. Greenpeace started campaigning on climate change back in the 1980s, when we were all half a degree cooler. You may not remember it that way, but the science is unequivocal. Now climate change is hitting the headlines again, largely due to those hitting the streets – and not least the thousands of young people striking for their future. Thirty years really should have been plenty of time to get to grips with the crisis. Yet thanks to the failure of successive governments, our politicians only got around to debating the need to declare a climate emergency yesterday. The last two decades have seen some steps in the right direction, primarily quitting coal and installing offshore wind. But this is the low-hanging fruit: replacing one discreet bit of infrastructure with another. Meeting the international goal of limiting warming to 1.5C means meeting challenges like decarbonising our cars, our homes, our industries and the food and clothes we buy – complicated stuff that’s integrated with every aspect of our lives. According to climate scientists, we only have one more decade to resolve these challenges. While 30 years ago would have been the best time to declare a climate emergency, the second best time is definitely now. That’s why we’ve published a plan to help our politicians. It’s not the last word on decarbonisation; such a huge project requires expertise from countless different disciplines and industries. And that’s why we’ve sent it to policy makers, think tanks and experts for feedback, and have opened it for comment from the public on our website. But it is a good place to start, and highlights all the main areas that need government intervention. This will mean profound change for both the economy and wider society. We need to stop exploring for new fossil fuel reserves immediately, and ramp down existing production. But by coupling that with a dramatic increase in renewable power we can ensure that communities reap the rewards by creating thousands of decent, secure jobs for workers in clean industries. As we move away from fossil fuels, we’ll also need to rethink how people move about. Those cars still on the road in a few decades will need to be electric, and so we’ll have to end the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030. We will need more investment in public transport and to make walking and cycling easier. The prize for doing this isn’t just a stable climate — it’ll help create cleaner, healthier towns and cities.
Times 2nd May 2019 read more »
David Aaronovitch: To get to net-zero, we will need at the very least to increase energy efficiency, move to 100 per cent of power being produced from low-carbon sources (it’s currently 50 per cent), change the way we all heat and power our homes, alter our ways of moving around, and significantly modify our diets and our use of land. Although the process will develop new industries and jobs, it is bound to mean some disruption and loss. Certain kinds of vehicles will be banned, but even before that — as has already happened in Paris and Madrid — restricted from entering parts of our big cities. Electric heating for homes costs three times as much per kWh as the gas heating that it will have to replace. Last autumn a group of Oxford scientists, looking at the effect that meat diets have on the environment, recommended pricing disincentives, one example of which was to increase the price of a packet of Sainsbury’s pork sausages from £1.50 to £2.69. Try getting that one past Unite and into the next Labour manifesto. Now, you can and should try to mitigate the effects of such measures on the poor. But unless your exchequer is bottomless and you subsidise everyone’s decisions, there will be losers. And as Emmanuel Macron discovered when trying to push through a green fuel tax increase last year, those losers can turn on you. And it’s not just a question of economic loss. It’s also a question of resentment — of personal costs not just measured in money terms. When people are told to stop doing what they’ve always done, it’s far worse than when they’re prevented from doing a new thing. It can be toxic. If it is, the temptation for the political opposition will always be to do the popular thing and sell out, and consensus will be lost. However, we’ve done it before. When I was a teenager we smoked in cinemas, the idea of homosexuals marrying was never even discussed and most white people said they wouldn’t want their daughter marrying a black man. And then it changed. The new generation — the Greta generation — is differently wired from the old. Our YouGov poll shows that whereas 19 per cent of voters aged 65 and over put the environment in their top three issues (up from 12 per cent before the latest protests) among those aged 18 to 24 it was 43 per cent. This is as true in the north or the Midlands as it is in London. We will get there because I believe that children will persuade their parents. The parties will follow.
Times 1st May 2019 read more »