The UK’s official advisers have issued a sombre assessment of government plans to hold climate change at a safe level. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says the government is not on track to meet its pledge of cutting emissions 80% by 2050. And they controversially warn ministers to park their recent ambition to tighten carbon reduction targets to protect vulnerable nations. Ministers say they are determined to tackle climate change. They say they will publish new policies soon. They support the Paris Agreement on climate which commits to holding temperature rise to 2C – preferably 1.5C. But the committee is warning the government not to run before it has proved that it can walk. They controversially advise ministers not to adopt stricter targets for the moment, even though poor nations say they are essential. The advice has infuriated campaigners. Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth told BBC News: “The job of the committee is to offer advice on carbon budgets based on the scientific evidence, not what feels politically expedient.”What message will it send to the world for Britain, once a climate leader, to give up on one central tenets of the Paris Agreement less than 12 months after it was signed? “It’s no surprise that the government’s approach to climate policy is failing. A five-year-old could tell you building runways, allowing new open-cast coal mines, and forcing fracking on local communities while doing precious little to support renewables or energy saving isn’t going to help us limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.
BBC 13th Oct 2016 read more »
Campaigners have expressed fears of a ‘bonfire’ of environmental regulations after Britain leaves the EU. The Government must not abandon the fight against global warming after Brexit – despite calls to do so from the climate-sceptic wing of the Conservative party – its official advisers have said in a report. There are fears of a “bonfire” of regulations designed to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gases after the UK leaves the European Union, which has developed world-leading standards. In the report, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said its number one “key message” was that the UK’s climate goals “have not changed”. Targets to reduce carbon emissions “must continue to be met after the UK has left the EU”, it stressed. The UK is currently on course to cut emissions by only half the amount needed by 2030 and the CCC said there was an urgent need for action – rather than more promises. A failure to switch to an energy efficient, clean and green economy could cause economic problems as British companies would struggle to sell their products in Europe, the CCC warned. In this scenario, firms on the continent might also engage in “dumping” of out-dated, polluting and expensive-to-run cars and consumer products on the UK market.
Independent 13th Oct 2016 read more »
The UK government needs to kickstart technologies to suck carbon dioxide from the air if it is to play its part in meeting the goals of the Paris climate change agreement, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the government’s official advisers. The global climate deal, which the prime minister, Theresa May, says the UK will ratify by the end of 2016, pledges net zero emissions by the second half of the century, in order to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. Given that some emissions, such as those from aviation and agriculture, will be very difficult to reduce to zero, that means removing some carbon from the atmosphere. Planting trees is the simplest solution but is limited by the land available, meaning more radical technologies need to be developed, such as chemically scrubbing CO2 from the air and burying it. “A strategy for deployment [of new carbon-removal technologies] at scale by 2050 should start now given the timescales inherent in bringing new technologies to market,” says a new CCC report. Another CCC report published on Thursday says the UK must act urgently to cut emissions from the heating of homes and other buildings, which ar e largely reliant on gas and cause 20% of the nation’s carbon emissions. UK emissions have fallen 38% since 1990, but virtually all of this drop is from greener electricity. Lord Deben, the CCC’s chairman, said a “step change” was needed in how the UK heats its homes, a problem that threatens the UK’s ability to meet its carbon targets. The CCC said the government must focus on the rollout of heat pumps and low-carbon district heating systems and the testing of hydrogen as a clean-burning replacement for natural gas. Hydrogen has the advantage of using the existing gas network, but is as yet untested. The hydrogen could be produced using spare renewable electricity, from biofuels or from fossil fuels. The latter would only be low carbon if emissions were captured and stored but ministers abruptly cancelled its flagship carbon capture and storage policy in November 2015. The CCC said hydrogen should receive similar research support to the £250m the government is already giving to small modular nuclear reactors. A third CCC report addresses the climate policy implications of Brexit for the UK. It notes that the UK’s key climate targets – cutting emissions by 57% by 2030 and by at least 80% by 2050 – are already enshrined in domestic law, under the Climate Change Act. But the CCC said EU efficiency standards for vehicles and appliances would have to be replaced to avoid the risk of manufacturers dumping inefficient products on UK consumers. “Efficiency standards cut costs for consumers, reduce emissions, and create a level playing field for competition.” the CCC report says. “If the UK has weaker standards than the EU that could lead to a dumping on the UK market of inefficient products with higher running costs and emissions.”
Guardian 13th Oct 2016 read more »
Heating and hot water for UK buildings make up one fifth of UK emissions but progress improving efficiency has stalled. A new energy efficiency programme is needed for UK homes, including 7 million insulations of walls and lofts. Efficiency measures could cut energy demand for heating by around 15% while reducing energy bills and delivering improvements in comfort, health and wellbeing. The Committee’s new report sets out principles of good policy design needed to improve delivery on efficiency and low-carbon heat. The UK’s attempts to deliver low-carbon heat have so far been unsuccessful. A proper strategy is needed so that the next Parliament can set a clear course for the UK. That must include the immediate and properly targeted roll-out of heat pumps and heat networks between now and the mid-2020s, alongside sizeable trials of hydrogen for heating. If hydrogen is to be a serious low-carbon option, carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be needed, which will only be possible if the Government urgently introduces a new strategy for its development and deployment in the UK. The CCC recommendations are broadly in line with an emerging GB-with national consensus on the need to increasingly de-carbonise heating and transport now that the ‘low hanging fruit’ of taxpayer subsidised onshore wind farms has gone.
Scottish Energy News 13th Oct 2016 read more »
The UK will have to use negative emissions to comply with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to its official climate advisers. Plans to start using greenhouse gas removal technologies by 2050 should be drawn up immediately, says the government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC). It adds that global use of these technologies “will be central” to meeting the Paris goal of net-zero emissions. However, the CCC warns that they are not a substitute for reducing emissions now. It says the UK must “vigorously pursue” efforts “with urgency” to meet its existing carbon budgets to 2030.
Carbon Brief 13th Oct 2016 read more »