Low carbon future cheaper than predicted

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has released its first detailed route map for a fully decarbonised nation, finding that the cost of this will be much cheaper than previously thought.

Last year, the UK became the first major economy to make net-zero emissions law. In the Sixth Carbon Budget (2033-2037) the CCC sets out the path to that goal over the next three decades, including the first ever detailed assessment of the changes that will result – showing that polluting emissions must fall by 78 per cent by 2035, compared to 1990 levels – a big step-up in ambition. Just 18 months ago this was the UK’s 2050 goal.

The CCC, an independent body established under the Climate Change Act 2008, advises the Government on emissions targets and reports to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

The CC believes that to deliver this a major investment programme is needed, in large measure from the private sector, with an annual investment of £50bn by 2030 (from around £7bn today. However, the falling cost of offshore wind and a range of new low-cost low-carbon solutions in every sector will give people real savings and substantially reduce the cost of net-zero compared with previous assessments: down to less than 1 per cent of GDP throughout the next 30 years.

Climate Change Committee chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The Sixth Carbon Budget is a clear message to the world that the UK is open for low-carbon business. It’s ambitious, realistic and affordable. This is the right carbon budget for the UK at the right time. We deliver our recommendations to Government with genuine enthusiasm, knowing that Britain’s decisive zero-carbon transition brings real benefits to our people and our businesses while making the fundamental changes necessary to protect our planet.”

The CCC states that there is a clear message to the Government: “By the early 2030s, every new car and van, and every replacement boiler must be zero-carbon; by 2035, all UK electricity production will be zero carbon. Modern low-carbon industries will grow; producing hydrogen; capturing carbon; creating new woodlands; renovating and decarbonising the UK’s 28 million homes. These provide hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the UK.”

The CC also believes that significant behavioural change will be required from the public, reducing demand for carbon-intensive activities. It lists, among other items, diets changing, reducing the consumption of high-carbon meat and dairy products by 20 per cent by 2030, with further reductions in later years, and slower demand of growth in in air travel.

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