The UK should invest more in low-carbon innovation, in order to achieve the 2050 climate change target – 19 July 2010

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today advised that the UK should protect funding for a suite of low-carbon technologies, which if developed here, will help to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050, whilst also providing the basis for green economic growth in the longer term.

Without government support, a range of essential low-carbon technologies are likely to get stuck in a so-called ‘valley of death’, where development is curtailed, and will fail to make it to market.

New low-carbon technologies will be vital in generating cleaner forms of electricity, which can then be used for electric vehicles and heating, and in delivering energy efficient buildings, areas which will make a very significant contribution to meeting the 2050 target to reduce emissions by 80% relative to 1990 levels.

The Committee conclude that any reduction in current funding levels (£550m per year) and specific future commitments (e.g. for power generation, CCS demonstration and electric vehicles) would increase the risk of missing carbon budgets and would see the UK losing out on critical opportunities to build a green economy. Once financial pressures have eased, increased funding will be required in specific cases (such as marine technologies and electric vehicles), and for low-carbon innovation more generally, over the next decade.

The findings are published in a report to the Governments Chief Scientific Advisor,  Professor Sir John Beddington, who requested the review in October 2009.

Professor Julia King, member of the Committee on Climate Change said:

“The case for action is strong. With adequate funding, new policies and strengthened delivery arrangements, we would expect UK firms to take leading roles in the development of key technologies, driving down emissions to meet carbon budgets and targets, and fulfilling the new Government’s clear objective to build a low-carbon economy. We urge the Government to put the appropriate low-carbon technology support arrangements in place to unlock environmental and wider economic benefits”.

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Sir John Beddington said:

“Innovation will be enormously important if the UK is to meet its climate change goals, and to do so affordably. We need to develop and deploy the most promising low carbon technologies quickly across all sectors. In times of austerity we must also make sure we invest public money to maximum effect. I welcome the Climate Change Committee’s advice in this critical area.”