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Governments seek guidance on net zero emissions ‘roadmap'

Words: Laura Edgar
Climate change / Shutterstock_86013754

The UK, Scottish and Welsh governments have written to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) asking for advice on when they should achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the economy.

The letter was signed by energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry; Roseanna Cunningham, environment, climate change and land reform secretary at the Scottish Government; and Lesley Griffiths, energy, planning and rural affairs secretary at the Welsh Government.

The governments also want advice on:

  • Whether the government should review its 2050 target of cutting emissions by at least 80 per cent relative to 1990 levels to meet international climate change targets set out in the Paris Agreement.
  • How emissions reductions could be achieved in industry, homes, transport and agriculture.
  • The expected costs and benefits in comparison to current targets.

The letter follows the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) warning that governments must act now to avoid disastrous climate effects. It also marks the first Green GB & NI Week.

During Green GB & NI Week, Perry is expected to highlight the economic opportunities of moving to a greener, cleaner economy, with almost 400,000 jobs in the low-carbon economy already, which the government said could quadruple to around two million, generating up to £170 billion of annual exports.

Perry said: “We’re a world leader when it comes to tackling climate change and cutting carbon intensity, but the evidence is clear – governments, businesses and communities must take further action to confront one of the greatest global challenges we’ve ever faced.

That’s why we’re asking the independent climate experts of the CCC for advice on a roadmap to a net zero economy, including how emissions might be reduced and the expected costs and benefits of doing so.”

To mark the start of Green GB & NI Week, the UK Government set out a package of measures to help to transform energy infrastructure to make it cleaner and greener, including launching a £320 million government fund in low-carbon heating for cities.

The UK Government added that it would be launching a competition in 2019 to design the house of the future, which should be more energy efficient, have a quality affordable design and be easily adaptable to help healthy ageing.

Emma Pinchbeck, executive director at RenewableUK, said: “The government has done the right thing by taking the first step towards setting a new target of net zero carbon emissions, but this needs to be followed swiftly with robust action. Conservative ministers took the bold decision in 2015 to phase out coal; they need to be bold again.  

“Onshore and offshore wind are the UK’s biggest renewable energy sources, generating half of our country’s clean power. We need to scale up these successful, innovative, cheap technologies even further and even faster if the UK is to meet more ambitious targets. We also need to fully commercialise our massive wave and tidal energy resources.

“The expansion of clean power is a win-win for all of us as it also creates highly-skilled jobs and attracts billions in investment to the UK. And consumers benefit from lower bills as renewables are the cheapest option when it comes to building vitally-needed new capacity”. 

The committee has been asked to submit its evidence by the end of March 2019.

The letter can be found here on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy website.

Company pledges

As part of Green GB & NI Week, business from across the UK have pledged to tackle climate change.

The government said that around 30 companies, from financial services to high street retailers, have unveiled plans to help cut emissions, from installing solar panels on office roofs to provide power for thousands of homes, to overhauling fleets of diesel trucks.

These include:

  • Barratt Homes will reduce construction waste intensity by 20% per annum (tonnes per 100m2) by 2025 and they will procure renewable energy for 100% of non-landlord supplied offices by the end of October 2018.
  • HSBC UK Pensions Scheme will invest £250 million into the UK’s thriving renewable energy infrastructure, investing in solar parks and wind farms around the country.

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