Building a Low Carbon Economy – Government Report Released

Defra yesterday launched their report ‘Building a Low Carbon Economy’, which sets out plans to move away from our fossil-fuel based society.

Broadly, the Climate Change Bill will put into statute the UK’s targets to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2050 and 26% by 2020, against average 1990 emissions.

If a global deal isn’t reached in Copenhagen next year, then the target will be as follows:

  • 2008-2012: 3018 million tonnes
  • 2013-2017: 2,819 million tonnes
  • 2018-2022: 2,570 million tonnes

If the international deal is reached in 2009, then the intended budget for greenhouse gas emission limits will be:

  • 208-2012: 3018 million tonnes
  • 2013-2017: 2,679 million tonnes
  • 2018-2022: 2,245 million tonnes

The government has set a target that 20% of all energy should come from renewable resources by 2020. A Renewable Energy Strategy is due to be published in Spring 2009 that will set clear guidelines on how this target will be achieved. The government also has questionable plans to invest more in nuclear energy in the run up to 2020.

The report includes plans to set clear reductions in carbon emissions from road transport. The King review found that average carbon emissions from cars could feasibly be cut to 100g/km by 2020. The Government is keen to push European legislation to follow suit on this front. This will inevitably have to mean either a reduction in demand from the most polluting vehicles, for example the Porsche Cayenne (358g C/km) and the Range Rover HSE Sport (374g C/km), or prohibitive taxation, failing a change in the wealthy motorists’ mindset.

Ambitious plans have been laid down for the building industry. By 2016, all new housing must be carbon neutral, whilst public buildings must meet this target by 2018, and other non-domestic buildings by 2019.

To tackle issues of waste, the ‘tax escalator’ that has already begun will hopefully reduce emissions from landfill sources and increase recycling.

The government has set progressive targets to reduce the use of inefficient lightbulbs by 2011 in retail and manufacturing, aiming to phase out wasteful practices.

£20 million is being invested by the Department for Transport and the Technology Strategy
Board for a collaborative research programme, aimed at commercialising vehicle technologies that will reduce carbon emissions over the next five to seven years.

Enhancing innovation and building the necessary skills base is at the heart of the Government’s plans to build a low carbon economy in the coming years.

An independent expert committee on climate change has been created, chaired by Lord Turner, which will advise the Government on how to meet its emulous targets.

Read the full document, including specific recommendations in response to the Commission on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance (CEMEP) enquiry, at: