Call to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 57% by 2030 to meet climate change goal


The UK needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 57% by 2030 to meet its long-term goal for tackling climate change cost-effectively, government advisers have said.

The cuts would mean the UK stays on track to meet its legally-binding target to reduce emissions by 80% on 1990 levels by mid-century, the Committee on Climate Change said.

Delivering the cuts cost-effectively would involve changes to homes, with insulation installed in nearly all UK homes where it is feasible and around one in seven houses heated with low-carbon sources of energy such as heat pumps by the 2030s.

The majority of new cars and vans bought in the UK by the 2030s would be fully or partially electric, while the UK's electricity sector would be largely powered by low-carbon sources, such as nuclear, renewables and power plants fitted with technology to capture their carbon.

Slashing carbon emissions from the power sector is needed to help other areas such as transport and heating become cleaner by being powered by non-polluting electricity instead of petrol or gas.

Making the shift to low-carbon power would add around £15 to a typical household bill in the 2020s, under policies to meet the 57% cut in the fifth five-year "carbon budget" for emissions reductions, which runs from 2028 to 2032.

That would come on top of a £105 increase on consumer bills up to 2020, although the extra costs do not take account of savings people could make from more energy-efficient homes and products.

Other measures are also needed, such as cutting emissions from agriculture and diverting all biodegradable waste including food and paper away from landfill by 2025.

The committee's chairman, Lord Deben, said the changes needed would not affect people's lifestyles.

"The fundamental thing is to enable people to lead their lives, to have their lights and their televisions and their gizmos and everything else and go to work, and have their leisure in a way that doesn't destroy the planet.

"They will lead the sort of lives they want to lead but they will be able to lead it without leaving nothing for their children."

He said the Government needed to commit to the emissions reduction of 57% in order to send clear-long-term signals to investors that the ambition to tackle climate change was still there, and put in place policies that will ensure the UK meets the goals.

The Government has come under fire from many quarters for moves since the election to curb support for renewables and energy efficiency measures, which critics warn has harmed investor confidence in backing the shift to low-carbon in the UK.

Lord Deben said the advice the committee had given the Government on the fifth carbon budget would help to ensure the UK continues to play its part tackling climate change, at the lowest cost to businesses and consumers.

Meeting the proposed fifth carbon budget would involve costs of less than 1% of the UK's economic output and would deliver benefits such as improved health from lower pollution levels. 

UK emissions are already down 36% on 1990 levels, but data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change suggests the country is not on track to meet the 52% cut put in law for the fourth carbon budget from 2023-2027.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said: "We are determined to meet our climate change commitments in the most cost-effective way, and have already reduced our emissions by 30% since 1990.

"We are considering the Committee's advice and will set the fifth carbon budget in law by the end of June next year."