UK faces “decisive decade” for climate progress

In the next 15 years, the UK can cut emissions by 78% compared to 1990 levels for less than 1% of GDP, according to the government’s climate advisors.

On 9 December, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published its report for the Sixth Carbon Budget (2033-2037) where it stressed the UK faces a “decisive decade” of progress and action on climate change in the 2020s. By following the CCC’s recommended budget, “well over half” of the required emissions reductions to 2050 could be achieved. A major investment programme would be required with this led by government, though largely funded through the private sector. It would see low carbon investment scale up to reach £50bn each year from 2030 to 2050.

It set out four key steps to ensure delivery of the Sixth Carbon Budget, starting with take-up of low carbon solutions as higher carbon ones are progressively phased out. Come the early 2030s, all new cars and vans, as well as boiler replacements, will be low carbon, with trucks following suite by 2040.

Low carbon energy supplies will expand with UK electricity production becoming zero carbon by 2035 and offshore wind the “backbone” of the whole UK energy system, reaching 100GW or more by 2050. New uses for this clean power would be found in transport, heating and industry, with low carbon hydrogen rising, in 2050, to be almost as large as electricity production is today.

Reducing demand for carbon intensive activities will also be key, with a national programme to improve insulation across the UK and dietary changes to cut consumption of high carbon meat and dairy products by 20% by 2030, as well as transformation in agriculture and the use of farmland, increases in woodland and a restoration of peatlands.