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Government faces increasing costs if it fails to act quickly on climate, warns report



Early action from the new government is needed to keep the UK’s emissions reduction targets on track and to adapt to climate change, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned. Without “urgent action” the government is likely to face increasing costs and impacts, the report adds.

The report notes that many policies designed to reduce future emissions are due to expire over the course of the current government. Uncertainty created due to the lack of policies after 2020 will lead to “stop-start investment, higher costs for all and risks failing to meet legal obligations”, explains the paper.

In the report’s foreword, Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, and Lord Krebs, chairman of the adaption sub-committee, state, “The most cost-effective approach to dealing with climate change requires steady progress over many years. The great benefit of the Climate Change Act is that is provides for sustained effort to reduce harmful emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change over the course of many parliaments.

“Reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change provide the opportunity to drive innovation, support growth, contribute to improved health, develop effective and resilient infrastructure and minimise the disruption from floods, water scarcity and other climate change risks.”

They add that the new government faces two questions. The first being what steps it will take to ensure emission reduction targets are met for 2020 and beyond in a cost effective way. Secondly, how they will address the increasing risks caused by past emissions.

The Committee advises the government to extend funding for low-carbon electricity generation to 2025, in a bid to support investment and innovation. It would also like the Conservatives to agree an action plan that delivers low-carbon heat and energy efficiency, allowing homes to be heated for less.

Other recommendations made in the report include support low-emission vehicles, developing infrastructure that is resilient to climate impacts and acting to preserve the fertility and organic content of soils while countering the decline in productive farmland.

Deben added, “This government has a unique opportunity to share climate policy through the 2020s. It must act now to set out how it plans to help the UK on track. Acting early will help reduce costs to households, business and the Exchequer. It will improve people’s health and wellbeing and create opportunities for business in manufacturing in the service sector.”

Photo: shining.darkness via Flickr

Further reading:

Committee on Climate Change letter condemns government’s ‘dash for gas’

UK set to offer climate expertise to developing countries

Study: climate change policies could have positive effect on UK economy

Report calls for next government to prioritise climate change and environment

G7 study: climate change a ‘global security threat’