Climate Change Committee publishes advice on the level of the Fifth Carbon Budget

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Today the Committee published its advice to Parliament on the level of the Fifth Carbon Budget, covering the period 2028-2032. Carbon budgets place restrictions on the total amount of greenhouse gases the UK can emit over a 5-year period in order to meet the UK’s goal of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 based on 1990 levels.

Commenting on the Budget, Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “Intriguingly the Committee suggests that meeting the fifth carbon budget could be very cheap or perhaps even free, once you take the real costs of energy into account.

“For example, adapting the national grid for clean electricity generators does incur a cost, but that could be offset by reductions to the public health bill due to less pollution.

“The Committee also makes the point that continuing power sector transformation from fossil fuels to clean generation is essential for an economy-wide low-carbon transition, because that unlocks carbon-cutting in transport and buildings – sectors where progress is currently languishing in the slow lane.”

Friends of the Earth senior energy campaigner Simon Bullock said: “This is not a fair or just response to the climate change crisis.

“The Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation is at the very lowest end of what they were considering. This means developing countries will have to do far more to help tackle climate change, while the UK can carry on polluting for longer.

“Ahead of crucial climate talks in Paris, the Government should be setting far higher targets, rather than drilling for more oil and gas and weakening policies on energy efficiency and renewable power.”

WWF-UK’s Head of Climate and Energy Emma Pinchbeck said: “This is a necessary step that would enable the UK to play its fair share in tackling global climate change, and would provide the long term commitment to low-carbon growth that businesses and consumers need.

“The government should accept the committee’s advice and commit to a strong fifth carbon budget this summer.   It should also accept proposals to improve the way carbon budgets are set and accounted for to ensure that the 61% reduction is achieved.  The Energy Bill currently before Parliament contains a proposal to effect this change.  This also deserves Government support.

“Only by acting with clarity on domestic climate policy can the Government show leadership on the international stage.”

Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “The publication of the Fifth Carbon Budget reaffirms what the Committee on Climate Change – the Government’s own advisors – have already said: the amount of renewable electricity generated in the UK must double by 2030 if we are to meet our legally-binding climate change targets.

“It is important to note that onshore wind and solar, our cheapest renewable energy technologies, play a significant role in all scenarios for our future energy mix, and must be included if we are to decarbonise at the lowest cost to the consumer.

“However it is hard to see how any of these renewable technologies will be able to progress given current uncertainty around future support for the sector from the very Government whose advisors are recommending their expansion.

“The report also contradicts the UK Government’s recent statement to only support the deployment of future offshore wind projects if they further reduce costs by an unspecified amount. The Committee clearly argues that it is UK deployment of offshore wind that drives down costs, not the other way around, and that the future energy mix should include the roll-out of offshore wind.”