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SUSTAINABLE MATTERS
| 3 minutes read

Key talking points from the Climate Change Committee’s 2022 Progress Report

The UK’s independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) has issued a “some progress but needs to do better” report card to the UK Government. The overarching message of this year’s Progress Report (PR22) to Parliament on the UK’s progress towards its climate change targets is that there is significant policy work still to do this decade to deliver net zero by 2050.

  1. Good progress in electricity supply. Emissions have fallen dramatically in the electricity sector since 2008 thanks to progress in renewable generation, particularly in offshore wind. UK policy is also strong in the nuclear power sector. But the CCC notes that more could be done to encourage the deployment of solar and onshore wind which might be delivered in shorter time-frames. Following a CCC recommendation, the Government is also embarking on comprehensive review of electricity market arrangements (known as REMA) this summer. The CCC also highlights the importance of resilient onshore and offshore electricity networks in achieving electrification goals, promising a report on decarbonising electricity supply later this year.
  2. Continued rapid uptake of EVs essential. The UK EV Infrastructure Strategy aims to deliver the UK’s policy to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. The CCC commends EV uptake, but recommends that more progress on charging infrastructure is needed, particularly to avoid regional disparities. Other risks to EV roll-out include supply chain bottlenecks and domestic gigafatory capacity. Notably the Government has established a Critical Minerals Expert Committee to advise on securing sustainable supplies of key minerals.
  3. Energy efficiency in buildings. The Energy Security Strategy focuses on supply, but the CCC notes that high fossil fuel prices also offer an opportunity to incentivise shifting demand away from fossil fuels. It notes that policy gaps exist to deliver the Heat and Buildings Strategy objectives, particularly in relation to owner-occupiers and commercial property, as well as on the roll-out of low carbon heating. The CCC recommendations include mandatory minimum performance requirements for mortgage lenders.
  4. The role of tax policy needs review. The Government has yet to set out how the cost and benefits of the transition to net zero will be shared fairly across society. The CCC recommends a Net Zero Tax Review by HM Treasury to correct distortions that often penalise low carbon technologies. It notes that the review could also directly support commitments in the Glasgow Climate Pact to phase down inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels and highlights an impending revenue gap as tax receipts from fuel sales reduce, unless replacement taxation schemes are introduced.
  5. More progress needed in industry. The PR22 highlights that, beyond the UK Emissions Trading Scheme, more is needed to encourage industrial decarbonisation, including resource efficiency, switching to electricity and policy for carbon capture and storage (CCS) in dispersed sites.
  6. More ambition for North Sea oil and gas emissions reductions. The CCC note that the North Sea Transition Deal and Net Zero Strategy commitment to a 50% reduction below 2018 emissions levels from offshore oil and gas production by 2030 could be outperformed, even with some additional North Sea fossil fuel production as part of the Energy Security Strategy. But, as noted in its letter in February, the CCC observes that reducing fossil fuel consumption overall must remain a central policy priority.
  7. Policy action needed on engineered greenhouse gas removals (GGR) and biomass. The Government’s ambition is for at least 5 MtCO2/year of engineered removals by 2030 whilst forecasting 20 MtCO2 more emissions removed per year in 2050 than the CCC, increasing the risk to the UK’s targets in the event that GRR technologies are not delivered. The CCC notes that the upcoming Biomass Strategy must include plans on sustainability frameworks and domestic biomass production to underpin the role of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). BECCs and direct air capture with CCS (DACCS) is recommended to be considered in the UK’s future CCS infrastructure planning.
  8. Aviation decarbonisation policy needs a plan B. The CCC found that the Jet Zero Policy proposals rely on the deployment of new technology such as Sustainable Aviation Fuels. Whilst important to continue work in this field, PR22 recommends a plan B to reduce demand growth, mainly through price signals, if these technologies cannot be deployed as planned.
  9. Greater focus on nature and land use. The CCC highlights a need for more progress in land use policy, including the promotion of carbon sequestration as well as the role of land use in climate adaptation, food security and biomass production. The PR22 observes that, together with buildings, land use and agriculture pose the largest risk to the delivery of the sixth carbon budget.
  10. Action at COP27. Credibility in domestic action is vital in international climate negotiations. As well as strengthening the UK’s 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the CCC highlighted the need for the UK to focus on climate finance and adaptation at COP27.

Tags

decarbonisation, renewable energy, alternative energy

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