Government confirms fifth carbon budget

The government has confirmed the fifth carbon budget for 2028 to 2032, agreeing to reduce emissions to an average of 57 per cent of 1990 levels.

It has accepted the recommendation to limit emissions during the period to the equivalent of 1.725 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide made by the Committee on Climate Change in a report published in November.

The committee said reaching the target will require power generation to reach an average carbon intensity of less than 100g CO2/kWh in 2030. It said the limit will put the UK on course to meet the target of reducing emissions by 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050.

The fourth carbon for 2023 to 2027 has previously been set at 1.95 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. So far the UK has already reduced emissions by more 30 per cent on 1990 levels.

Energy secretary Amber Rudd said: “Setting long term targets to reduce our emissions is a fundamental part of building a secure, affordable and clean energy infrastructure system that our families and businesses can rely on and that is fit for the 21st century.

“The UK remains committed to playing its part in tackling climate change to ensure out long-term economic security and prosperity.”

Here is how others have reacted:

Lord Deben, chairman, Committee on Climate Change

“I warmly welcome the government’s acceptance of the [committees’s] advice on the fifth carbon budget. Amidst many competing demands it is to their credit that they continue to prioritise efforts to tackle climate change in the UK and internationally.

The government’s commitment to reduce UK emissions by 57% by 2030 will open up opportunities for UK businesses both at home and abroad. It also demonstrates the continued broad political consensus to tackle the serious risks posed by climate change.”

James Court, head of policy and external affairs, Renewable Energy Association

 “The fundamentals of energy have not changed post-referendum, we still need new generation that is cost effective, low carbon and secure. 

“This would be the worst time for the government to row back or U-turn on existing commitments, which would be toxic to inward investors. So this is a positive first step, but will need to be backed up by a robust energy plan by the end of the year.”

Hugh McNeal, chief executive, RenewableUK

“This government is global leader in tackling climate change. Today’s announcement is especially welcome given the uncertainty caused by last week’s referendum.

“It’s a clear signal that the UK will continue to show bold leadership on carbon reduction. This will allow investment to continue to flow into renewable energy projects throughout the UK”.  

Richard Black, director, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

“The biggest energy issue facing the government now is lack of investor confidence. All investors want to see a smooth, predictable playing field in front of them, but over the last year they’ve been thrown one curve ball after another – and that’s making energy more expensive.

“Against the backdrop of the £1.7 trillion national debt, a likely Brexit penalty on fuel costs and the fact that many of our power stations are past their sell-by date, reducing the cost of building new kit is obviously a pragmatic thing for the government to do.”

 “Accepting the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations for the Fifth Carbon Budget will go some way to restoring investor confidence and so controlling costs. It won’t be enough on its own, but it’s a first step.”

Jonathan Selwyn, chairman, Solar Trade Association

“The Solar Trade Association very much welcomes the strong support expressed for solar by the Committee on Climate Change and by [Andrea Leadsom] in her evidence to [Energy and Climate Change Committee] yesterday.

“However, in our meeting this week with [the minister] we urged her department to take specific actions to address the significant slow-down in the industry following the recent changes to the solar support framework. We believe that a number of relatively minor changes could help stimulate the market.

“As an industry we are on the path to a subsidy-free future, we hope by the early 2020s. To achieve this, we need a flourishing UK industry and a government that allows us to compete on a level playing field with other renewables as well as nuclear and gas.”

Luke Warren, chief executive, Carbon Capture and Storage Association

“This is an important step towards building the long-term confidence in climate and energy policy that will enable the necessary investment in transformative low-carbon infrastructures like carbon capture and storage.”          

David Reed, head of Npower Business Solutions

“We welcome the publication of the fifth Carbon Budget Order as it provides some clarity on government’s continued commitment to meeting the UK’s climate change targets.

“It is vital that businesses receive all the support they need from government and industry to ensure the implications of today’s decision are made clear and enable them to make the necessary changes to their operations as we work towards a greener UK.”

Claire Jakobsson, head of energy and environment policy, EEF

“With the unprecedented level of uncertainty created by last week’s referendum result, it is essential that the government looks to provide stability and continuity where it is able to. Confirming the fifth budget at this level provides a positive signal that whatever the UK’s future relationship with the EU is to be, the scale of our emissions reduction ambitions and the direction of travel will remain unchanged.

“Government must now work closely with industry to develop the detail that will underpin this target, ensuring a framework that helps our most energy intensive industries decarbonise competitively, but also drawing on the strengths of UK manufacturing to ensure the UK economy feels the full economic benefit of our decarbonisation drive.”

Tom Burke, chairman, E3G

“This decision demonstrates that despite Brexit the UK will continue to be a world leader in tackling climate change. But it will mean that the Government will have to double down on a new cost effective energy strategy which reduces reliance on imported gas.

“This means it must make energy efficiency an infrastructure priority to slash energy demand in UK homes by half.  This would significantly reduce energy bills and fuel poverty and could generate £8 billion in net economic returns. No other infrastructure investment can deliver so much for so many, generating jobs in every constituency across the UK.”

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