Government Adopts Ambitious New Carbon Target for 2030

           Carbon and Climate

Against a backdrop of concern that the UK’s climate change policies could suffer as the result of the EU Referendum, the UK government has sent a positive message to the green economy and forged ahead with a commitment to stringent emission reduction targets for 2030. Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd laid the draft order before parliament last week, accepting recommendations by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) by committing to emissions cuts of 50% by 2030, against 1990 levels. Actual policy proposals to meet the target are currently being drawn up and will be published later in the year.

Speaking to the Business and climate change Summit on 29th June, Amber Rudd said, “Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security.”

Meanwhile, a progress report from the CCC, published last week, showed that the UK has made good progress against targets in recent years, with emissions now 38% below 1990 levels. However, this has been predominantly achieved by the power sector and the CCC says that action is now needed in the sectors of low carbon heat, energy efficiency, and transport if the new target is to be met by 2030. The Committee made a series of specific recommendations which included the extension of the existing low carbon transport policy, and a new approach for delivering Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) to the UK.

As an instrument to encourage new policies for CCS, the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA) has published a report on the lessons learned from the Shell Peterhead Project and Capture Power White Rose Project. These were the preferred bidders for a CCS competition before it was cancelled by the Government in November 2015. The report gave insights into the large-scale CCS projects and concluded that the barriers to success were commercial rather than technical. The Government had considered the strike price required for CCS was too high, but the high price was attributed to the full chain structure of the projects, which included the transport of emissions and subsequent storage.  The report finds there is scope for new CCS projects going forward with potential for rapid cost reduction and highlights the benefits of CCS in the areas of decarbonisation of industrial emissions, heat generation, and transport. The sudden cancellation of the CCS competition last year has damaged investor confidence and the CCSA has called for a new CCS policy commitment in order to help meet emissions reduction targets.

Dr. Luke Warren, Chief Executive of the CCSA, said: “The report also clearly shows that CCS has significant potential for rapid cost reduction. The Government has confirmed its intention to develop a new approach to CCS, and we look forward to working with them to build on these lessons and ensure the successful delivery of CCS”.

Despite underlining its commitment to climate change targets, uncertainty over the future of green investment in the UK persists as the result of the Brexit vote. For example, there is speculation that competitive loans from the EU Investment Bank may be withdrawn. Full clarity on issues such as these will not emerge during this period of political uncertainty but the recent commitment to the fifth carbon budget sends a positive message to business and the green economy and acts as a first step to a new UK policy on climate change. Business leaders are now calling for a swift ratification of the Paris Treaty, so that its future is not endangered as the result of political events. So far it has been ratified by 19 of the 174 signatory countries.

Nikki Wilson

Nikki joined Alfa Energy in September 2015 as a Carbon Management Consultant where she advises clients on legislation, compliance, and the implementation of carbon management schemes. She is a Practitioner member of IEMA, has a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Decision Making, and has over 15 years’ experience in energy consultancy.