The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has called for the new parliament to urgently publish new plans to meet the UK’s climate change targets. Although good progress has been made against emission reduction targets historically, we are not on course to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets. On publication of its 2017 Report to Parliament CCC said, “Effective new strategies and new policies are urgently needed to ensure emissions continue to fall in line with the commitments agreed by Parliament (by at least 50% by 2025 and 57% by 2030 on 1990 levels), and that key risks to homes, businesses, and the natural environment are addressed”. Under UK legislation, the Government is required to publish a plan to meet the fifth carbon budget, which was adopted 11 months ago. When setting the fifth carbon budget, the Government acknowledged that new and stronger policies would be needed to meet it and the existing fourth carbon budget. The subsequent lack of clarity has created uncertainty for businesses and reduced the momentum of action on decarbonisation.
The UK has successfully decoupled GDP from emissions in recent years. GDP has grown by 60% against 1990 levels while greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have reduced by 42% over the same period. However, the cut in emissions has come largely from the power sector, which has significantly reduced its reliance on coal-fired generation, the most carbon-intensive form of generation. Policies are now urgently needed to curtail emissions from transport and buildings. CCC has also called for a new strategic approach to carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the UK, stipulating that contracts should be awarded by 2020 to allow CCS to operate at scale by the 2030s. In response to the report, BEIS has recently indicated that a Clean Growth Strategy will be published this autumn, to be followed by the final plan on industrial strategy. Businesses are also waiting for announcements on a new reporting framework to replace the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, which ends in 2019, and possibly an enhanced approach to the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS). The last time these issues were aired was in the Government’s response to the consultation: Reforming the business energy efficiency tax landscape, published in March 2016.