Government should set a 2050 net-zero emissions target, CCC report advises

The UK government should set a 2050 net-zero emissions target to remain in line with the Paris Agreement, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recently revealed.

However, in order to achieve this, the supply of low carbon electricity will need to quadruple by 2050, more efficient buildings and low-carbon heating systems need to be built and electric vehicles (EVs) must be the only cars sold by 2035 or earlier.

The CCC notes the new targets are already achievable with existing technologies and has called for them to be put into law as soon as practically possible.

It stresses they can be affordably implemented within the budget originally accepted by Parliament when it passed the Climate Change Act in 2008 and expects they will cost between 1% and 2% of annual GDP up to 2050.

The group suggests a 2050 phase-out would constitute the ‘highest possible ambition’, as called for in the Paris Agreement – it does not see a way the UK could realistically go net-zero before this date.

It says the target exceeds the reduction required on a global scale to limit average rises in temperature to ‘well below 2°C’ and states it would make the UK a leader on the international stage as a result.

The government’s advisory committee says compared to the rest of the UK, Scotland is well-placed to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and could go net-zero by 2045, whereas Wales might be a little slower to phase out greenhouse gases and so should aim for a 95% reduction in emissions by 2050.

The CCC states carbon capture and storage and clean hydrogen technologies “are a necessity, not an option” and calls for policies stopping biodegradable waste going to landfill, phasing-out fluorinated gases, planting more trees and reducing agricultural emissions to be ramped up significantly.

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