The clean growth strategy falls ‘well short’ of achieving the kind of emissions reductions needed to meet statutory targets due to kick in five years from now, Parliament’s climate change watchdog has warned.

The Committee on Climate Change’s assessment of the government’s clean growth strategy, published today, says the blueprint contains a ‘welcome recognition’ of the challenge the UK faces in meeting its emission reduction targets.

But it warns the strategy’s proposals, are ‘not yet firm enough’ and will “fall well short of, meeting the emissions reduction targets outlined in the fourth and fifth carbon budgets. The budgets cover the decade from 2023 to 2033, by which point it says emissions should be 61% of 1990 levels.

“It’s existing proposals are insufficient to fill the gap in the carbon budget and more measures need to be taken,” says the report.

And it says the window to develop policies, which will enable the UK to meet its statutory emission reduction targets, is ‘small’ thanks to the delayed publication of the strategy in October, more than a year after the fifth budget was set in the summer of 2016.

The report says ministers must outline by the end of this year policies to enable the UK to achieve its fourth carbon budget targets, which state that emissions must be 52% below 1990 levels by 2028.

These include fitting heat pumps in all new homes and existing dwellings, which are not connected to the gas grid, in order to prepare for their widespread deployment throughout the UK’s building stock in the 2030s if needed.

It recommends more encouragement for relatively cheap onshore wind and solar renewable electricity generation and the sourcing of additional low-carbon power if new nuclear plants and inter-connectors fail to contribute the level of energy that the government expects.

The committee also calls on government to set out plans in 2018 to kick-start a UK carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry in the 2020s.

Without the deployment of CCS, the committee’s report says the UK will be off track meet the 2050 target. And it says the £100m earmarked for developing CCS in the CGS is insufficient.

“I don’t think we can meet targets cost effectively without CCS,” said the committee’s chair Lord Deben, adding that the oil and gas industry needed to look ‘more seriously’ at the technology in order to safeguard its future sustainability.

The report also urges more widespread deployment of charging points to encourage take up of electric vehicles.

Lord Deben welcomed the government’s ‘fundamental change of stance, but said there should be ‘no question’ that it should ‘bank’ carbon savings by bringing forward higher than expected emissions reductions during the last few years resulting from the faster than expected drop in coal-fired generation.



What to read next