Urgent action needed now to avoid increasing costs and impacts of climate change in the UK

Early action in the new Parliament is needed to keep the UK’s emissions reductions on track and to adapt to climate change, the Committee on Climate Change says today.

Reducing emissions

Many policies designed to reduce future emissions are due to expire over the course of this Parliament. This includes funding for low-carbon electricity and heat, measures to encourage low-emission vehicle use and energy efficiency. Uncertainty created by the lack of policies after 2020 will lead to stop-start investment, higher costs for all and risks failing to meet legal obligations to reduce emissions.

Adapting to climate change

The UK also needs to prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change caused by continuing emissions. The Committee’s evaluation of the UK National Adaptation Programme concludes that more households will be at high risk of flooding, despite the increase in spending on flood defence. In addition, farming in some of the most productive parts of the country is at risk within a generation, and higher temperatures pose risks to health that are not being properly addressed.

Recommendations

The findings are part of the Committee’s new progress report which is published half way through a crucial year for global climate action. 196 nations will meet in Paris in December to agree a new international deal to limit global warming.

The Committee is advising Government to:

  • extend funding for low-carbon electricity generation to 2025, to support investment and innovation and to continue cutting costs
  • agree an action plan that delivers low-carbon heat and energy efficiency to allow homes to be heated for less while addressing the risks from rising temperatures and flooding
  • continue support for efficient, low-emission vehicles to save drivers money
  • develop new infrastructure that helps to combat climate change and is resilient to its impacts
  • act to preserve the fertility and organic content of soils and counter the decline in productive farmland.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said:

“This Government has a unique opportunity to shape climate policy through the 2020s. It must act now to set out how it plans to keep the UK on track. Acting early will help to reduce costs to households, business and the Exchequer. It will improve people’s health and wellbeing and create opportunities for business in manufacturing and in the service sector.”