Committee on Climate Change urges 60 per cent carbon cut

The Committee on Climate Change has recommended that, by 2030, carbon emissions in the UK should be cut by 60 per cent relative to 1990 levels.

The effect would mean that the country would have to reduce carbon emissions by a further 62 per cent from 2030 to meet the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act.

The committee estimates that the recommended target could be achieved at a cost of less than one per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

To achieve the deep emissions cuts required in the period to 2030, the committee recommended that the carbon budgets currently in legislation − which cover the period up to 2022 − should be tightened to reflect a 37 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases in 2020 relative to 1990 − up from the currently legislated 34 per cent cut.

The Committee on Climate Change said that this could be raised further again to 42 per cent once the EU has moved to more ambitious climate-change targets. New carbon budgets should be legislated by summer 2011, as required under the Climate Change Act.

In making its recommendations, the committee set out a detailed assessment of opportunities for reducing emissions in the UK over the next two decades.

It claims that the 2030 target could be achieved through investment in low-carbon technologies, including wind, nuclear, and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS); the widespread development and deployment of low-carbon vehicles; insulation of homes and more efficient farming practices.

Chair of the Committee on Climate Change Lord Adair Turner said: ’We are recommending a stretching but realistic fourth carbon budget and 2030 target, achievable at a cost of less than one per cent 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 that we have recommended and to develop the policies required to cut emissions over the next two decades.’

‘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,’ said Dr Neil Bentley, CBI director of business environment. ‘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.’