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Landmark report - UK can make major cuts to carbon emissions more cheaply than previously thought.

This brings forward the UK’s clean energy timetable by 15 years - a previously unimaginable leap. The report says the low costs for the transformation are due to new clean technologies also being more efficient.

The authors say people can play their part by eating less red meat, curbing flying, driving less and installing low-carbon heating.

They estimate the costs of the low-carbon revolution will scale up to an annual £50bn by 2030 from around $10bn today, with most being private investment. By 2030, they estimate that some of these costs will be offset by fuel savings of £18bn.

Decisive decade

But the committee, also says: “The message to the government is clear: the 2020s must be the decisive decade of progress and action on climate change”. If its recommendations are carried out, the CCC says the UK will achieve its share of the UN target agreed under the Paris agreement drafted five years ago. This international deal aims to keep the global temperature rise well below 2C and “pursue efforts“ to keep it under 1.5C. So far, temperatures have increased around 1.1C and are contributing to devastating forest fires and ice loss at the poles. As a result, some scientists believe dangerous climate change may have already begun.

To get the best results the report says, the UK government must start cutting emissions aggressively, to prevent them accumulating in the atmosphere. It sets out the following conditions for success:

  • To reduce demand for activities that increase carbon emissions. This means curbing the projected growth in flying and leaving cars at home wherever possible
  • To reduce meat-eating. The committee thinks current dietary trends will result in a cut in red meat consumption of 24% by 2035, and suggests low-carbon lab-grown meat may be on the table by then
  • To encourage the take-up of clean technology, such as electric cars, heat pumps, hydrogen boilers and carbon capture and storage (CCS) – where emissions are buried underground
  • To expand low-carbon energy: wind power, solar power, hydrogen and, probably, nuclear
  • To offset emissions that can’t readily be cut by that time, such as from farming and aviation. This would include planting trees and using CCS.

The report says: “Many people can make low-carbon choices, about how they travel, how they heat their homes, what they buy and what they eat.” It also includes a measure of popular opinion, gleaned through the recent UK Climate Assembly – where members of the public participated in sessions with climate experts to establish a dialogue on the best ways to cut emissions.

The assembly called for a tax on frequent flyers, a ban on selling polluting sports utility vehicles (SUVs), and a cut in meat consumption - although it stressed that people shouldn’t be coerced into changing behaviours.

The CCC estimates that 16% of the effort to achieve the targets will come from behaviour change, such as shifts in diet or flying less. Another 41% will come from painless improvements in low carbon technology, and 43% will be a combination of technology and behaviour change.

There will be a revolution in homes and how they're heated. This will involve insulating many more homes, making all new gas boilers hydrogen-ready - able to use cleaner hydrogen as a fuel - and making greater use of heat pumps.

For a copy of the report go to: https://www.theccc.org.uk/

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