In a report published on 2 May, the Committee on Climate Change recommends the UK becomes net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.
A net-zero GHG target for 2050 will deliver on the commitment that the UK made by signing the Paris Agreement. It is achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and within the expected economic cost that Parliament accepted when it legislated the existing 2050 target for an 80% reduction from 1990.
However, this is only possible if clear, stable and well-designed policies to reduce emissions further are introduced across the economy without delay. Current policy is insufficient for even the existing targets.
Recommendations on revising the UK’s long-term emissions targets
- The UK should legislate as soon as possible to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The target can be legislated as a 100% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) from 1990 and should cover all sectors of the economy, including international aviation and shipping.
- The aim should be to meet the target through UK domestic effort, without relying on international carbon units (or ‘credits’).
- This target is only credible if policy to reduce emissions ramps up significantly.
‒ The target can only be delivered with a strengthening of policy to deliver emissions reductions across all levels and departments of government. This will require strong leadership at the heart of Government.
‒ Policies must be designed with businesses and consumers in mind. They must be stable, long-term and investable. The public must be engaged, and other key barriers such as low availability of necessary skills must be addressed.
‒ In this report, we highlight particular priorities where progress has been too slow: low-carbon heating, hydrogen, CCS and agriculture and land use. As well as driving deployment, Government must ensure that the necessary infrastructure is delivered.
- HM Treasury should undertake a review of how the transition will be funded and where the costs will fall. It should develop a strategy to ensure this is, and is perceived to be, fair. A broader strategy will also be needed to ensure a just transition across society, with vulnerable workers and consumers protected.
- The UK can benefit from the international influence of setting a bolder target, using it as an opportunity for further positive international collaboration.
- Wales has less opportunity for CO2 storage and relatively high agricultural emissions that are hard to reduce. On current understanding it could not credibly reach net-zero GHGs by 2050. Wales should set a target for a 95% reduction in emissions by 2050 relative to 1990.
- Scotland has proportionately greater potential for emissions removal than the UK overall and can credibly adopt a more ambitious target. It should aim for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. Interim targets should be set for Scottish emissions reductions (relative to 1990) of 70% by 2030 and 90% by 2040.