Urgent action needed on clean cars and energy-saving homes, climate advisers say

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Three-fifths of new cars and vans should be electric by 2030 to meet legal targets to cut greenhouse gases, Government climate advisers have said.

New homes should also be being built to more energy-efficient standards to save people money on their bills and reduce emissions, they said.

A report from the Committee on Climate Change warned the Government's "clean growth strategy", published in October, did not go far enough to meet targets to cut greenhouse gases by the 2020s and 2030s under UK law.

The report called for more firm policies and action, from incentives for "able to pay" householders to install energy efficiency measures to speeding up tree-planting to create 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) of new woodlands by 2025.

And Lord Deben, the committee's chairman, said housebuilders, car companies and oil and gas firms should "step up" to play more of a role in the shift to a cleaner economy.

He said the strategy showed clean growth was now a "central part of the Government's economic policy".

But he warned: "The Government's policies and proposals will need to be firmed up as a matter of urgency - and supplemented with additional measures if the UK is to deliver on its legal commitments and secure its position as an international climate change leader."

He also said: "I think that the time has come for us to remind industry in many of these areas they have a real part to play.

"If you're going to sell an electric car your dealers have to be very well aware, have got to understand these things, so training dealers is essential.

"If you're running a big fossil fuel company, you have to start thinking about the realities of when, not if, because it is not if any longer, we use a lot less fossil fuels."

Oil and gas businesses should be investing more in technology to capture and store carbon emissions from power plants and industry, without which the cost of cutting greenhouse gases from the economy will be more expensive, the committee said.


Lord Deben also criticised construction firms for only doing the "absolute minimum" required on building energy efficient homes, saying the "people who suffer" from homes that are not properly insulated are the buyers who have to pay higher energy bills.

If Persimmon had spent the £112 million bonus its chief executive received on "improving the energy efficiency of the 18,000 houses that Persimmon built last year, every one of their purchasers would be paying significantly less as a result", he said.

The Government should also tighten standards for new-build and rented properties, the committee said.

On vehicles, ministers have ambitions for 30% to 70% of new cars to be ultra-low emissions by 2030, as well as up to 40% of new van sales, as part of efforts to phase out sales of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

Currently less than 5% of new car sales are "alternatively fuelled", which also includes hybrid models.

The Climate Change Committee said that by the end of the next decade, 60% of new cars and vans should be ultra low emissions, most of which will be electric.

Grants for electric vehicles are still needed until they are the same price, and tougher emissions standards for conventional cars than the EU has in place should be brought in, the committee said.

Lord Deben also said drivers should be given the assurance about being able to "fill up" their electric vehicles, not only by rolling out a network of charging points but ensuring people know how and where to charge up.

A spokesman for the Department for Business said: "The UK has reduced emissions on a per person basis faster than any other G7 nation, and our Clean Growth Strategy is the next ambitious milestone in our work to decarbonise the UK, but we have always said it is only the start of a process.

"Our proposals will continue to evolve whether in response to costs of renewable energy coming down, improved evidence about climate change, wider trends in technology or the economic opportunities delivered through our Industrial Strategy."