Coalition Accepts Challenge of Emissions Reductions

Reported in the Guardian online and elsewhere today, it is expected that Parliament will be told on Tuesday that the Coalition has accepted the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change for the fourth carbon Budget (2023-2027). The headlines are:

-to reduce emissions by 60% relative to 1990 levels by 2030

-to include shipping and aviation in future carbon budgets

-that this costs below 1% of GDP

-that annual investments through the 2020’s will be in the order of £16Bn per annum

Some highlights include the suggestion that by 2025 14% of all cars on the road will be electric,  and that by 2030 all new cars will need to be below 50g/CO2/Km.

The report points out that due to the difficulty of dealing with aviation, the actual target for other sectors is likely to be in the order of 85% reductions in emissions.

The Carbon price will rise from £25 in 2020 to £70 in 2030 and £200 in 2050

Housing

The commentary on the built environment are interesting, as in some cases they are very different from current policies in some areas. The general thrust is towards electrification and the use of heat pumps over other technologies.

-2.6M households will have heat pumps installed by 2030

-all practical cavity and lofts to be insulated by 2015

-2.7m solid walls insulated by 2020 and 3.5m solid walls will have been insulated by 2030

-efficient glazing, lagged boilers and 1 deg reduction in heating requirements!?*

-it considers the impact of sequestering carbon in buildings

-it suggest that the carbon emission benefits of demolishing buildings and replacing them with new ones is only viable in the case of the least efficient buildings where emissions reductions are prohibitively expensive.

But the interesting comment is that district heating will have a limited role, reflecting uncertainties around the technical and economic benefits of this option.

There are some worrying aspects to the report around the issues of putting off today what you think you can do tomorrow. The report sets out an annual reduction of only 1.5% between now and 2020, with an approximate 4.5% for the following three decades. This also means that by pushing more aggressive action back we are allowing a larger total amount of CO2 to be emitted between now and 205, and pushing the bulk of the activity onto the next generation.

This is a dangerous activity, it presupposes that future politicians agree with the current ones, and anyone observing the self-serving activities of the Republican Party across the Atlantic should be worried by that. It may be unlikely to happen in the UK, but it is not impossible.

Overall, the message is very positive, there is a path to an 80% reduction in Law, and this Government supports that path and it should be applauded for doing so. But in order to gain the title of the Greenest Government, Ever, it has to ensure that more of the actions happen within the life of the current parliament, it is no use saying to your children to go out and save the world, and then expecting to take credit for their actions.

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