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In October 2018, the Government’s of the UK, Scotland and Wales asked the Commitee on Climate Change (CCC) to consider the UK’s long-term emission targets in light of the Paris Agreement and the IPCC special report on 1.5°C.
The CCC has now published the findings via its latest report advising the UK should set a Net-Zero emissions target for 2050, including emissions from aviation and shipping. 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.
Other key outcomes from this latest climate change report include:
1. A UK net-zero GHG target for 2050 is well ahead of this – recognising the UK’s capability and responsibility to lead.
2. The UK is showing what can be done. UK emissions per person have halved since 1990 and are now at the global average.
3. Now is a key time for climate leadership. A UK net-zero target would be genuinely world-leading and help support raising international ambition ahead of the UN Climate Summit in September.
4. New scenarios for deep UK emissions reduction to 2050 have been developed with 60% of the emissions reduction in its scenarios involving some societal or behavioural changes. The message is clear, the public will need to be engaged in the challenge.
5. An earlier date than 2050 should not be set at this stage. Some sectors could reach net-zero earlier, but for most 2050 appears to be the earliest credible date, avoiding the need for early capital scrappage or punitive policies.
6. Scotland and Wales have different capabilities compared to the UK as a whole. Scotland has more potential for emissions removal. Wales has less scope for CO₂ storage & more hard-to-reduce agriculture emissions. Reflecting their respective capabilities, Scotland can credibly set a 2045 net-zero target and Wales should set a 95% reduction target compared to 1990. These are fair contributions to the UK target & Paris Agreement.
7. A net-zero target is only credible if policy ramps up significantly across all levels of government. Challenges that have not been confronted must now be addressed (e.g. for carbon capture & storage, heating, industry, HGVs, aviation, agriculture, emission removals).
8. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a necessity, not an option, for reaching net-zero emissions.
9. Decisions will need to be made about the balance between electrification and hydrogen in decarbonising buildings, and the implications for gas networks.
10. Costs of key technologies (offshore wind, batteries) have fallen rapidly. Some of the changes, like decarbonising transport, will save money compared to the high-carbon alternatives. They will also help clean up our air and make our streets quieter.
11. People and households can take actions now to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to the UK and global goals.
In summary, the changes required are substantial but the foundations are already in place. Now is the right time to set a net-zero target and stop the UK’s contribution to global warming.
The full report can be found here: https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-the-uks-contribution-to-stopping-global-warming/