UK Climate Assembly seeks carbon labelling

The first UK-wide citizens’ assembly on climate change has published its final report, setting out a clear path for how the UK can reach its legally binding target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Each chapter of the report details assembly members’ views on the advantages and disadvantages - including the trade-offs and co-benefits - of different ways of reaching net-zero, and the results of the votes by secret ballot that followed.

Across the report, there were several recurring themes, with the Assembly calling for improved information and education for all on climate change; fairness, including across sectors, geographies, incomes and health; freedom and choice for individuals and local areas; and strong leadership from government.

In five specific areas, the Assembly called for far-reaching change. In transport, it voiced a desire for improved public transport with much higher levels of investment and a ban on internal combustion engines. Interestingly it a significant majority also called for public transport to be returned to government control.

Assembly members would like to see a solution to air travel emissions that allows people to continue to fly, but limits growth in air passenger numbers to 25–50 per cent between 2018 and 2050, depending on how quickly technology progresses and raises in air taxation.

For housing, there was a call for changes to product standards to make products more energy efficient and 'smart' and a ban on sales of new gas boilers from 2030 or 2035. Again the environmental met the political, with a call for changes to energy market rules to allow more companies to compete.

In terms of food, the labelling food and drink products to show the amount of emissions that come from different foods was almost unanimously supported, as was the concept of paying farmers and other landowners to use their land to absorb and store carbon, for example by restoring peatland or planting trees.

The most radical ideas might have been in consumer goods, where again the markets may be affected, with designs to amended procedure for awarding government contracts that gives preference to low carbon companies and products and an increase in renting rather than outright purchase. Assembly supported 'labelling and information about the carbon emissions caused by different products and services' and 'product labelling and information campaigns about what can be recycled and why it's important'. They also backed 'advertising bans and restrictions' on high emissions products or sectors.

Full report

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