Committee on Climate Change
Committee on Climate Change
News Article | April 17, 2017
It was recently reported that UK emissions are now as low as they were when Queen Victoria was in power. That's an incredible achievement. And given the very real societal, environmental and economic costs of climate change and air pollution, it's an achievement that should easily pay for itself even if energy bills rise as a result. But here's the thing: The low carbon transition hasn't actually pushed up bills. As Business Green reports, analysis from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has revealed that while the direct costs of subsidizing renewables and energy efficiency programs have added £9 (around US$11 in post-Brexit Britain) per month to the average household energy bill in 2016. But that added cost was more than offset by a £20 decrease attributed to increased energy efficiency gains—gains that have in large part been supported by the subsidies for efficiency. This is very good news. While pro-fossil fuel special interests continue to decry the costs of going green, the fact is that an aggressive push for renewables and efficiency ought to help the average pocketbook. And that's before you even factor in the negative costs of pollution that'll disproportionately impact lower income communities. In many ways, it's the same story in the States. While car companies successfully lobby for gutting fuel efficiency standards—and cite upward pressure on car prices as justification—the real truth is that car prices are rising primarily because of gadgets, gimmicks and additional safety features. Consumer groups have been adamant that stricter fuel economy standards will help, not hurt, the average car buyer. James Murray, editor of Business Green, is unequivocal in his opinion of what reports like this mean for the green economy. And he directly contrasts this vision with the short-term, anti-environmentalist thinking which is prevalent in some parts of the world: "President Trump is continuing with his semantic-bending experiment to deliver clean air and water by torching air and water regulations. But Spring is coming, the sun is shining, and quietly, inexorably, the idea that a genuinely sustainable economy can be delivered is starting to look less like an environmentalist pipe dream and more like the inevitable by-product of an unstoppable technological revolution." Let's just hope we get there fast enough.
News Article | May 16, 2017
The UK is set to reap the whirlwind of climate change with the huge damage caused by wind storms expected to increase sharply, according to new analysis. Even the minimum global warming now expected – just 1.5C – is projected to raise the cost of windstorm destruction by more than a third in parts of the country. If climate change heats the world even further, broken roofs and damaged buildings are likely to increase by over 50% across a swathe of the nation. The research shows all of the UK is on track to see rises in high winds except the south and south-west, with the greatest impact across the Midlands, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland. This is because the main storms that barrel in off the Atlantic are expected to move their track northwards as the planet warms, a phenomenon linked to the rapid melting being seen in the Arctic. Flooding is the most high-profile impact of climate change on the UK. But the overall cost of wind storms is actually higher, as a result of a much larger number of smaller incidents, and currently runs at an average of about £1bn a year. Extreme wind storms can occur, though, and in 1990 the Burns’ Day storm resulted in 47 deaths, as well as more than £2bn of insured damage and many millions more in damage to roads, power lines and uninsured properties. The new work was commissioned by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which is concerned by the rising impacts of climate change on its customers, and was carried out by the consultancy Air Worldwide and the UK Met Office. “It is absolutely a concern that we are going to be living in a world where overall there are higher wind storm losses,” said Matt Cullen, the ABI’s head of strategy. “That inevitably transfers through to insurers having to raise premiums and hold more capital. We want to make sure we live in a world where risk is controlled and understandable and we can offer insurance in a reliable and sensible way.” Homes and buildings have lifespans of many decades and so work done now should make them better able to withstand the buffeting of severe winds, Cullen said. He said there was a concern that, while the risks of climate change are now being included in policies, there was little to ensure the protections needed are actually implemented. The research used sophisticated Met Office climate models to examine how wind storms are likely to change in frequency and intensity with different levels of global warming. “We will probably see an overall reduction in the number of storms, but an increase in the frequency of the most intense storms, and of course those are the ones that cause the [most] damage,” said Peter Sousounis, director of meteorology at Air Worldwide. This data was then used to calculate the changes expected in the cost of damage resulting from the stronger storms and the researchers found significant increases in most parts of the UK. This was not entirely unexpected, said Sousounis. “We have seen enough results from catastrophe models to really not be surprised. Small changes in wind speed can have a huge impact on losses,” he said. “Losses go up almost exponentially with increasing wind speed.” Cullen said: “The likelihood of claims resulting from severe storms increasing in the future is something the insurance industry, and society, need to start preparing for now. Planners and builders should be aware of the need for more wind-resistant construction in specific areas of the country if claims are to be kept to a minimum and residents spared the distress and expense of higher levels of wind damage.” The government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, warned in 2016 that UK is poorly prepared for the inevitable impacts of global warming in coming decades, including floods, deadly annual heatwaves and water shortages. It also warned: “Any increases in maximum wind speeds with climate change experienced during storms would have significant implications for many infrastructure networks,” such as roads and railways and power and communication lines.
News Article | May 11, 2017
Fears of a drought are rising after an exceptionally dry spell and water companies are asking customers to save water, but the vast amount of water that leaks from company pipes every day has not fallen for at least four years, according to a Guardian analysis. Furthermore, many companies in the parched south and east of England have been set leak reduction targets for 2020 of zero or even targets that could allow leakages to increase. Critics blame a system where it is “cheaper to drain a river dry than fix a leak” and say it is unfair to place the water saving burden on customers while 20% of all water leaks out before it even reaches homes. The UK has seen the driest October to March period for 20 years followed by an extremely dry April in England and Wales, where rainfall was two-thirds below normal, leaving many farmers worried. River flows are now below normal in 35 out of 41 sites monitored by the Environment Agency. In the populous south-east region in April, rainfall was just 20% of the long term average. Middlesex was the driest county with just 12% of expected rain, while central London had only 9%. The outlook for the next few months remains dry. The lack of rain, called “particularly acute” in the south-east by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, prompted some water companies to ask customers to save water by, for example, ensuring washing machines and dishwashers are fully loaded. But data from the water industry regulator Ofwat shows more than three billion litres of water leaks every day, a level unchanged for at least four years and just 7% lower than the level in 2000. Major companies across the south and east, including Thames, Anglian and Southern have seen no significant reduction and one company, Essex and Suffolk Water has seen leaks rise by 15%, according to the Ofwat figures. The leak reduction targets set by Ofwat for the period 2015 to 2020 are zero for six companies in the south and east and for Anglian, Southern and Essex and Suffolk, the targets would allow more leakage than the levels already achieved by the companies. ‘The fact that water companies have made no progress in reducing water leakage over the past four years highlights the lack of focus and pressure from government on this issue,” said Sue Hayman, shadow environment secretary. “It is unfair that consumers are being asked to save water when companies are set unambitious targets.” Rose O’Neill, water policy manager at WWF, said: “Customers routinely tell companies [reducing leaks] is their top priority, yet a third of all water that is taken from the natural environment is still wasted, through leaky pipes, inefficient processes, and waste in the home.” She said water companies and Ofwat account for the cost of fixing leaks but not of taking water out of the environment: “This means it is cheaper to drain a river dry than fix a leak and is one of the reasons we have seen so many rivers dry up this spring.” Ofwat said water companies have to compare fixing leaks with other options, such as driving down customer demand or taking more water from rivers and acquifers, and said companies face financial penalties if leakage targets are missed. The next targets will be set in 2019 and a spokeswoman said: “We have proposed a series of measures to make leakage performance commitments more stretching.” The government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), warned in 2016 that water shortages were one of the most serious impacts of global warming in the UK, with even modest temperature rises leading to “severe” water shortages in England. The CCC said measures to reduce both leakage and demand are needed. Thames Water is the biggest water company in England and also the leakiest, with 20,500 litres escaping every day per kilometre of main, more than double the national average, and equating to 171 litres per property per day. “We are determined to bring the rate down,” said a company spokesman. “But large scale mains replacements are disruptive, especially with two-thirds of our network running under the busiest and hardest to reach roads in London.” A spokesman for Essex and Suffolk Water said: “Our leakage target has been the same since 2010 and is agreed with Ofwat based on the most efficient use of our customers’ money.” He said the company had one of the lowest leak rates when measured per property and that recent rises were due to variable weather and remained below the Ofwat target. Southern Water has been set a target of 87m litres per day on average from 2015-2020, though this is above the actual leakage in 2015-16 of 84Ml/day. A spokesman said freezing winters cause more burst pipes: “Therefore, we try to outperform our target during mild winters, so when we have a harsh winter we have some room to take the adverse weather into account.” Paul Valley, a director at Anglian Water, said Ofwat’s leakage targets were too weak. “We don’t believe it’s good enough to stop at the targets set by our regulator, not when reducing leakage is so important to customers and so vital for us in this dry part of the country. Addressing the challenge of leakage is one of the reasons we can be confident that there won’t be a hosepipe ban in the Anglian Water region this summer.” He said the company is aiming to beat the 2020 target set by Ofwat by 10%: “We’re going further than most of the industry. This is a plan that our customers explicitly supported when we spoke to them about it.”
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 5.75M | Year: 2013
We propose an End Use Energy Demand (EUED) Centre focused on Energy Epidemiology to be located at the multidisciplinary UCL Energy Institute (UCL-Energy), which undertakes research on energy demand and energy systems. Energy Epidemiology uses data and modelling to study energy use in the real world, with the aim of understanding the interactions of policy, technology, infrastructure, people and culture. The Centre for Energy Epidemiology (CEE) will: undertake primary data collection; advise on data collection; provide secure and ethical curation of a wealth of administrative, commercial and research data; link, develop and use innovative research methods; and support a structured research programme on energy demand intended to achieve a major reduction in UK carbon emissions. CEE will provide key research and policy insights at city, regional, national and international levels. It will support UK academics, policymakers and industry to research energy demand, by providing a cost-effective, secure and ethical bureau service for energy and related data. It will work closely with the new cross-government Energy Efficiency Deployment Office (EEDO) of DECC, the Energy Saving Trust, UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the new Open Data Institute (ODI) to marshal and maximise the value of existing and very large future sources of energy-related data (big data), ensuring the greatest impact for evidence-based energy demand research. The Centre will initiate and be a key player in an international network of energy epidemiologists, sharing research methods and undertaking cross-cultural comparisons of policies and technologies to reduce energy demand and to help the UK to meet its carbon targets. UCL-Energy: - has a clear focus on energy demand and its interaction with energy supply systems - this has been the core focus of UCL-Energy since its launch, with full UCL support, 35 months ago. - is multi- and interdisciplinary with lawyers, economists, social scientists, engineers, physicists, psychologists, architects, mathematicians and policy analysts co-located in open plan offices facilitating collaborative work. It has successfully worked with researchers from anthropology, English literature and history on energy demand problems. - makes an impact by supporting policy makers and industry to both set and achieve UK carbon targets. Examples of such support include the Green Deal, CCC budgets, smart meter rollout, and the development of products for reducing energy demand. UCL-Energy is the only university centre that has officially advised DECCs new EEDO, whose focus is squarely on EUED. - undertakes research of the highest quality; its staff were recognised as world leading by two successive EPSRC Platform Grant reviews. Roughly half its staff were submitted in the Built Environment UoA (30), for which UCL received the highest percentage (35%) of internationally leading staff (4*) in the UK. It holds the grant for the only Centre for Doctoral Training in energy demand. - is not sector-specific; it covers all energy uses and applies methods across sectors e.g. transport and buildings. - is managed as a coherent centre - this is facilitated by placing all staff under a single budget centre with a clear management structure. UCL-Energy is advised and guided by a prestigious International Advisory Board with CEOs and directors from leading companies around the world. - has leveraged a wide range of funding. From an initial UCL investment of £680k, it has so far raised £10m of external funding, including £2m from industry. - has strong leadership - its Director, Professor Tadj Oreszczyn has established a new academic department at UCL in less than 3 years, advises government at senior level, is on the boards of key organisations and has written several strategic papers on the future direction of energy demand research. - has critical mass and sustainability: UCL-Energy has 80 staff and PhD students
News Article | June 9, 2016
Carbon dioxide has been pumped underground and turned rapidly into stone, demonstrating a radical new way to tackle climate change. The unique project promises a cheaper and more secure way of burying CO2 from fossil fuel burning underground, where it cannot warm the planet. Such carbon capture and storage (CCS) is thought to be essential to halting global warming, but existing projects store the CO2 as a gas and concerns about costs and potential leakage have halted some plans. The new research pumped CO2 into the volcanic rock under Iceland and sped up a natural process where the basalts react with the gas to form carbonate minerals, which make up limestone. The researchers were amazed by how fast all the gas turned into a solid – just two years, compared to the hundreds or thousands of years that had been predicted. “We need to deal with rising carbon emissions and this is the ultimate permanent storage – turn them back to stone,” said Juerg Matter, at the University of Southampton in the UK, who led the research published on Thursday in the journal Science. Matter said the only thing holding back CCS was the lack of action from politicians, such as putting a price on carbon emissions: “The engineering and technology of CCS is ready to be deployed. So why do we not see hundreds of these projects? There is no incentive to do it.” The Iceland project has already been increased in scale to bury 10,000 tonnes of CO2 a year and the basalt rocks used are common around the world, forming the floor of all the oceans and parts of the land too. “In the future, we could think of using this for power plants in places where there’s a lot of basalt and there are many such places,” said Martin Stute, at Columbia University in the US and part of the research team. Testing has taken place in the Columbia River Basalts, extensive deposits in Washington and Oregon in the US. India, which has many polluting coal power plants, has huge basalt deposits in the Deccan Traps. One potential challenge for the new technique is that it requires large amounts of water: 25 tonnes for each tonne of CO2 buried. But Matter said seawater could be used, which would be in plentiful supply at coastal sites. Another is that subterranean microbes might break down carbonate to methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, but this was not seen in the Iceland research. The research, called the Carbfix project, took place at Iceland’s Hellisheidi power plant, the world’s largest geothermal facility. The plant pumps up volcanically heated water to run electricity-generating turbines but this also brings up volcanic gases, including carbon dioxide and nasty-smelling hydrogen sulphide. The researchers re-injected 230 tonnes of the gas, which was dissolved in water to prevent it escaping, down into the basalt to a depth of 400-500m. They used tracer chemicals to show that over 95% of CO2 was turned into stone within two years, “amazingly fast” according to Matter. Edda Aradottir, who heads the project for Reykjavik Energy, said: “It was a very welcome surprise.” The Iceland project has now begun scaling up to bury 10,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, plus the hydrogen sulphide which also turns into minerals. The Columbia University group are also investigating another rock type, found in Oman, which may be able to turn CO2 into rock even better than basalt. In conventional CCS, the CO2 is stored as a gas in sedimentary rocks such as exhausted oil fields under the North Sea. Unlike basalt, these rocks lack the minerals needed to convert CO2 into stone. Such sedimentary reservoirs could potentially leak and therefore have to be monitored, which adds to costs. They have also raised concerns from the public and projects on land in the Netherlands and Germany have been halted as a result. “In Europe you can forget about onshore CCS,” said Matter. Conventional CCS also requires the CO2 to be separated from the mix of gases emitted by power stations and industrial plants, which is expensive. But the basalt-based CCS does not require this. However, Matter said there would still be a role for conventional CCS in places where power plants are close to good reservoirs. Stuart Haszeldine, professor of CCS at the UK’s University of Edinburgh and not involved in the new research said it was promising: “This is terrific. It may well provide a low-cost and very secure remedy for parts of the world where the suitable rocks exist. [But] this needs to be used as well as all the existing propositions, because the problem to be solved of thousands of million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year in the world is immense and no single remedy is anywhere near big enough or fast enough.” The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that CCS is hugely important to tackling climate change in the most cost-effective way. Without CCS, the costs of halting global warming would double, the IPCC said, an assessment with which the UK government’s advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, agrees. However, the UK government cancelled a pioneering £1bn CCS competition in November. Globally, CCS has not developed as quickly as hoped, although some companies are using CO2 injection to drive more oil and gas from older fields. Haszeldine said there have been over 100 injections of CO2 gas in different countries worldwide since 1972, none of which are known to have leaked. Other innovative approaches to CCS are being explored, including an ExxonMobil-backed project using fuel cells to make capturing CO2 cheaper and one from Ford which uses CO2 to make foam for use in their vehicles. Groups are also working on chemical advances to capture CO2 more easily.
News Article | October 6, 2016
The last 18 months have been a major set-back in the British policy landscape affecting carbon emissions from buildings: the trajectory to zero carbon new build has been paused; Government support for Green Deal finance was withdrawn with no alternative mechanisms in place to encourage and enable investment by able-to-pay households; government announced that funding from the Energy Company Obligation will be reduced again; and a review of business energy taxes has led to proposals for a new tax structure but, as yet, no coherent supporting framework to encourage energy efficiency action. This is despite the fact that an increase in policy action is required: In June, the 5th Carbon Budget was adopted by Government setting firm carbon targets for the period from 2028 to 2032. Parliament approved them in July. Reaching those targets will require bold and ambitious policy action across all sectors. However, new research by the Association for the Conservation of Energy and the Regulatory Assistance Project paints a worrying picture of the UK’s prospects for achieving its carbon targets in the building sector: the Government’s own projections for abatement show that the UK will not meet the 5th Carbon Budget in buildings. Taken together, policies as they currently stand are projected by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to achieve a 21% cut in direct emissions from buildings by 2030 compared to 1990, just 12% below the ‘business as usual’ emissions for 2030. This means that the UK’s emissions from buildings will exceed those recommended by the Committee on Climate Change for the 5th Carbon Budget, in 2030, by 18%. Worryingly, a large part of the projected abatement from buildings (85%) is considered by the Committee on Climate Change to be ‘at-risk’, and after the vote to leave the EU there is uncertainty around which previously EU driven policies driven will remain. In other words, the majority of projected emissions abatement from buildings is seen as uncertain and may not be achieved. It may not be technically possible, and it is certainly not economical, to close this abatement gap in the power, transport and industrial sectors instead. Consequently, we need to de-risk, reform, extend and expand existing policies, but also introduce new instruments in order to speed up carbon abatement in the buildings sector. Additional regulatory policies such as Energy Efficiency Standards at point-of-sale (as is currently being implemented in France and considered in Scotland) are needed and new build standards need to be tightened towards zero carbon or nearly zero energy. Alongside, a substantial financing scheme offering low-interest loans is required to enable households and businesses to upgrade their properties and make them fit for a low-carbon future. Our research shows that the benefits of meeting the 5th Carbon Budget in buildings justify considerable public and private investment to capture them. We quantified the main costs and benefits generally considered for formal policy impact assessments, calculated in accordance with official guidance. The result is that the benefits exceed the costs to a similar degree as High Speed 2 (a planned high-speed railway linking London to the north of the UK) and the smart meter rollout. This means that there is a strong economic case for investing in upgrading the UK’s building stock. We estimate the net benefit from energy savings, emissions savings, improved air quality and health, and comfort and productivity to be in excess of £45bn. And this figure does not include the value of employment needed across the country to deliver the 5th Carbon Budget in buildings, the value of avoided gas imports and improved energy security, the GDP boost it would deliver nor the additional revenue it would generate for the public coffers. Ensuring this happens depends on the creation of a robust and long-term policy framework that supports the development of sustainable markets for low carbon retrofit and construction. The most strategic opportunity at which such a step-change can be signalled is in the forthcoming Carbon Plan; the Building Renovation Strategy due next spring also presents an opportunity. Pedro Guertler is Research Director for the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) Dr Jan Rosenow is a Senior Research Fellow for the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, based in SPRU at the University of Sussex and a Senior Associate at the Regulatory Assistance Project
News Article | February 23, 2017
Heathrow expansion can only be justified if the government proves it will not breach laws on climate change and pollution, MPs say. Ministers say a third runway will not exceed environment limits. However, the Commons Environmental Audit Committee has accused the government of "magical thinking" - wishing the problem away without a proper solution. They say ministers must show the expansion will not fuel climate change. Committee chair Mary Creagh told BBC News: "There's plenty of talk about how the government wants to solve environmental problems at Heathrow, but a total absence of any policy guarantees. "The implication of this is that they think other sectors of the economy like energy and industry are going to have to cut their carbon emissions even more so people can fly more - but the government's been told by its own advisors (the Committee on Climate Change) that's not possible." The MPs also criticised the government's reliance on a projected increase in electric vehicles on the roads to keep local air pollution within safe limits. "The government has missed already its targets for electric vehicles," Ms Creagh said. "Our committee has no confidence it will meet its target for 2020 or 2030. Ministers have got to put proper policies in place instead of relying on magical thinking." What are your solutions for air pollution? The committee previously urged a step change in the way the government tackles environmental issues at Heathrow, but says there is little evidence this has happened. The UK has already breached EU limits in London for the pollutant NO2 for 2017. The committee says a new air quality strategy is urgently needed to ensure that airport expansion does not harm public health. The government has said after Brexit that EU environmental laws will be imported wholesale into the UK, but the MPs say they have seen no guarantees that the government will keep pace with future EU air quality laws. The report calls on the ministers to implement an alert system for nearby residents who are especially vulnerable to short-term exposure to air pollution. On climate change, the MPs complain that international aviation emissions from an expanded Heathrow will be 15% higher than the level previously set for 2028-32. They say the government must show how the slack will be taken up by other sectors of the economy, which are already struggling to meet their own emissions targets. They say measures on noise lack ambition, with no precision on the timing of a night flight ban and little evidence that predictable respite can be achieved. The report was welcomed by John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, the campaign group that opposes Heathrow expansion. "The government and Heathrow Airport have got to up their game big-time if they are to have any chance of getting a third runway," he said. "They have got to prove they can deliver on noise, climate and air pollution - not just say they can." The report comes just weeks after the government launched a public consultation on a third runway, which ends on 25 May. Later this year or early next year MPs are expected to be asked to vote on the runway. A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We take our air quality commitments extremely seriously and have been very clear that the new runway will not get the go-ahead unless air quality requirements can be met." The spokesman said the government has no plans to "water down" its ambitions on cutting aviation emissions and remains committed to meeting emission reductions targets under the Climate Change Act.
News Article | December 26, 2016
Major flooding in the UK is now likely to happen every year but ministers still have no coherent long-term plan to deal with it, the government’s leading adviser on the impacts of climate change has warned. Boxing Day in 2015 saw severe floods sweep Lancashire and Yorkshire, just weeks after Storm Desmond swamped Cumbria and parts of Scotland and Wales. The flooding, which caused billions of pounds of damage, led to the government publishing a review in September which anticipates 20-30% more extreme rainfall than before. But Prof John Krebs, who leads the work on adapting to global warming for the government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), told the Guardian: “We are still a long way from where we need to be, in that there is still not a coherent long-term view.” Lord Krebs said it was important for both government and households to learn from the run of floods that have affected many parts of the country in recent years. “Almost every year there has been some more or less major flooding event and that is a key message,” he said. “We have to now get it embedded that this is something that will happen somewhere most years.” Increased flooding is the biggest impact of climate change for the UK, but the CCC has also warned that the nation is poorly prepared for deadly annual heatwaves, water shortages and difficulties in producing food. However, Krebs, who is stepping down from his CCC role after eight years in January, said: “There is still hope this country will make the progress it needs to make.” Pressure to act now must continue from the CCC in its watchdog role and from the public, he said: “This is not something in the long-term future, this is something here and now. But it will also be worse for your children and grandchildren than it is for us, unless we do something about it. “At the extreme end, parts of the world could become uninhabitable and there could be mass migration,” Krebs said. “At the more modest end, we are likely to experience more extreme weather events in this country and we need to prepare for that.” Krebs also said ministers would regret cutting flood protection measures for new homes. New laws passed earlier in 2016 aim to drive the building of 1m new homes but Krebs, an independent member of the House of Lords, said he was disappointed ministers had rejected proposals to cut the risk of the homes flooding and make them cheap to heat. “The imperative to build more homes was overriding anything that might get in the way and I think the housebuilders got at the Department for Communities and Local Government to say all of this is going to be costly and difficult,” he said. “It isn’t [costly] really, but they just want to get on and build homes according to the bog-standard, simple template and not have to worry about whether the development is sustainable in terms of carbon footprint and flood risk. In 20 years time, people will look back and say, ‘What were they thinking?’” The CCC has also warned the government that there are no plans to deliver half of the cuts in carbon emissions needed in the 2020s, a caution Krebs likened to a yellow card. On the third runway at Heathrow, Krebs said the government had not been clear whether the plan meant carbon emissions from planes would remain under the limit recommended by the CCC. “Is it crazy [to build it]? We don’t know yet,” he said. But if the new Heathrow runway were built and the government stuck to the CCC limit, growth at other airports would be severely constrained, he said: “The big concern will be for the regional airports where there will be very little room for growth. So if Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh have aspirations, they may be dashed.” Krebs said rejection of human-caused climate change and its great risks – which he calls denial – is a “fringe discourse”, with 114 of the world’s nations already having ratified the global climate deal signed by 194 countries in Paris a year ago. But he said: “We shouldn’t be complacent because those dissenting voices are well-organised, funded and persistent. One has to be strong in the message that the risks are so great that taking out insurance [by acting] now is well worth it.”
News Article | September 14, 2016
New figures have shown that Scotland met its 2014 emissions reduction target, outpacing the United Kingdom as a whole in both 2014 and overall since 1990 — but experts believe there is still a lot of work to be done. According to figures published in a new report this week for the Scottish Government by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Scotland met its 2014 emissions reduction target, with emissions including international aviation and shipping falling by 8.6% in 2014. Conversely, the United Kingdom as a whole only managed to reduce its emissions by 7.3% in 2014, and since 1990, gross Scottish emissions have fallen nearly 40%, compared to the UK’s nearly 33%. Net emissions show an even more impressive story for Scotland, falling 13% in 2014 down to 41.886 MtCO2e — 5.1 MtCO2e below the target set by the country in 2009, and bringing its emissions down 45.8% below 1990 levels. This puts the country well on track to meet its 2020 interim target of reducing emissions by 42% below 1990 levels, on its way to cutting emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The report, Reducing emissions in Scotland — 2016 progress report, is the CCC’s fifth report on Scotland’s progress toward meeting its emission reduction targets, and lays out the progress that has been met already and the action needed to stay on track. The authors note that Scotland is making good progress over a number of areas, and in many cases is leading the UK as a whole. Deployment both at a utility-scale and at community- and local-scale have seen impressive progress, and the country’s energy efficiency policy is described as “well developed, especially compared to that in England.” “Scotland continues to lead the UK both in performance and ambition when it comes to tackling climate change,” explained Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change. “Emissions are reducing and the latest targets have been hit. Scotland has set out its intention to meet the challenges of climate change and its contribution to the ambition agreed at the Paris climate conference last December. New policies are now required for Scotland to continue its commendable path to decarbonising its economy.” However, the Committee on Climate Change tempered its enthusiasm and praise for Scotland’s efforts by reminding that there is still much more that needs to be done if Scotland is to meet its high ambition and tighter targets extending beyond 2020. There is a need for stronger policies in the upcoming Climate Change Plan which is set to be published in the next few months, which will look to introduce policies intended to tackle reducing greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors. Such policy recommendations made by the CCC include: The following infographic was published by the Committee on Climate Change, explaining how greenhouse gas emissions are reducing in Scotland. Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store! Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
News Article | March 19, 2016
The UK government will be enshrining the net-zero emissions climate change goal that resulted from the COP21 talks in Paris into law, following advice from the Committee on Climate Change, according to recent reports. The news was revealed by the UK’s Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom to the House of Commons earlier this week. Leadsom commented that the government was working to “build on the momentum of Paris” — and also that a plan for the means of putting the net-zero emissions goal into law would be forthcoming sometime later in 2016. The implication of this all is that the UK’s legal target for emissions reductions will be increased from an 80% reduction (as compared to 1990 levels) by the year 2050 to a net-zero target by the same date. “The government believes that we will need to take the step of enshrining the Paris goal for net-zero emissions in UK law,” stated Leadsom. “The question is not whether but how we do it. There is an important set of questions to be answered before we do. The Committee on Climate Change is looking at the implications of the commitments in Paris and has said it will report in the Autumn. We will want to consider carefully the recommendations of the Committee.” To become truly “net-zero” the UK would need to somehow completely decarbonize sectors such as agriculture, heating, and transportation. Not a simple task to do so, while still remaining internationally competitive. Of course there are a number of loopholes still in place for many industries (with regard to carbon emissions accounting), and who knows if they will ever be done away with, so it’s hard to say what “net-zero” really means in his instance. Image by @Doug88888 (some rights reserved) Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.” Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.