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Report to Parliament highlights lack of progress made in reducing emissions – 30 June 2011

The CCC’s  progress report finds that emissions increased by 3% in 2010, mainly as a result of the colder winter months. After adjusting for weather impacts, emissions were broadly flat. This is incompatible with the 3% annual average emissions reduction required to meet the first four carbon budgets. A significant acceleration in the pace of emissions reductions is therefore required.

Emissions in 2010 were within the limits of the first carbon budget, however, this was due to the impact that the recession had in 2009, which reduced emissions by 9%. The report highlights 2 crucial areas of Government policy to drive down emissions:

  1. It recommends that  in its forthcoming White Paper (July this year) the Government should announce new electricity market arrangements based on long term contracts (“contracts for differences”). It stresses the need for a smooth transition from current arrangements to support renewable generation in order to avoid an investment hiatus.
  2. It recommends that as part of the Green Deal, the Government should commit to ambitious targets to insulate all lofts and cavity walls by 2015, and 2 million solid walls by 2020. It further recommends that energy companies should be required to deliver these targets or equivalent emissions reductions under the proposed Energy Company Obligation.

The report also shows the need to outperform the currently legislated first three budgets in order to make the fourth carbon budget feasible, and to do this without the purchase of offset credits.

The Committee’s assessment against emissions indicators suggests that there was mixed progress in 2010:

There was good performance in…

  • Accelerating the rate at which old inefficient boilers were replaced through the ‘boiler scrappage scheme’.
  • New car emissions which fell on average from 150 gCO2/km in 2009 to 144 gCO2/km in 2010.

There are a number of areas where there was underperformance….

  • There was a 30% reduction in professional installation of loft and cavity wall insulation in 2010.
  • The schedule for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration projects slipped, and further delays would limit scope for CCS to contribute to power sector decarbonisation.
  • There has been very limited success at encouraging eco-driving. 10,000 drivers were trained in 2010, compared to the 350,000 required annually by 2020*.
  • Enforcement of the speed limit declined in 2009, with an increase of 3% in the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit on motorways.
  • Although funding was committed that could support roll out of Smarter Choices initiatives to encourage greater use of public transport, more details are required  of precisely how this will be spent before we can be confident that this will significantly reduce emissions.

And a number of areas where a significant increase in the pace of policy implementation will be required:

  • The numbers of solid wall insulations was very low in 2010 with only 13,000 installations, with around 2 million installations required over the next decade to help meet carbon budgets.
  • The use of renewable heat in homes and offices remains at very low levels (i.e. 2% compared to the 12% required by 2020).
  • Although investment in renewable power generation was on track, a significant ramp up will be required in the next few years.

Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, Lord Adair Turner said:

“The step change that we have previously highlighted has not yet been achieved. Although we can meet the first carbon budget, this is mainly due to the recession. It is crucial that Government sets out detailed policies to support power sector decarbonisation and energy efficiency in homes and businesses. The successful implementation of these policies will determine our ability to meet carbon budgets” 

The conclusions are set out in the Committee’s 3rd annual report to Parliament on progress made by Government in 2010 towards reducing emissions.