Today, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have released another excellent report, setting out the UK’s progress towards meeting our carbon targets. We have seen increasingly forceful rhetoric from the CCC and this report is no different – the clear message from the report and from its leaders, Chris Stark and Lord Deben, is one of urgency.

The CCC are keen to praise the ambition of the UK and point out where success has been achieved, particularly in the power sector, but quick to warn that this must be met by decisive policy action. Lord Deben has once again raised the possibility of legal action being taken against the UK government if it does not meet its targets under the Climate Change Act.

Madeleine Greenhalgh, policy manager at Regen, gave her thoughts on the report:

“The CCC’s message is clear: we have set the target, we know the size of the challenge and we know what needs to be done. So now is the time for action”

Their key recommendations, which we fully support, are:

  • Climate change policy embedded across all departments ‘like a stick of rock’, even suggesting a ‘climate cabinet’ as has been adopted in Germany. Regen and the ESN have been pushing for such a commitment within the energy sector, in particular asking government to give Ofgem a clearer remit on decarbonisation.
  • Climate policies that are business friendly and engage the public. We know through our work with community energy groups that giving the public an opinion and a stake in their energy production, precipitates faster, more successful change.

There are specific recommendations on energy, transport and buildings which we will discuss in more detail in further blogs. The headline messages which we support, include:

  • Bring forward the ban on petrol and diesel vehicle sales to 2030. Our 2018 paper, Harnessing the EV revolution, called for the ban to be brought forward 2030. Many manufacturers are making significant changes and investments, but more needs to be done. A lack of EV supply was the main barrier to fleet electrification highlighted at our recent EV and Electricity system forum.
  • Reintroduce a route to market for onshore wind and solar. We have been pushing for the pot 1 CfD auction to be revived for solar and onshore wind – subsidy-free solar projects are emerging, but, as we heard at our forum in June this won’t be at the scale required and barriers still lie in the way. The difficult planning regime for onshore wind also needs to be revisited and the change could be in the air as we see increased support in the conservative party for onshore wind.
  • New build standards to ensure all new homes are ultra-efficient and use low carbon heating from 2025 and all new heating systems to be low carbon from 2035. Regen has been working with communities, social landlords and supply chain companies on new methods of scaling up energy efficiency deployment. We believe that the UK construction industry has all the tools it needs to build and retrofit properties to net-zero energy demand and remain economically viable. Strong UK policies setting out minimum performance standards in homes and escalating EPCs for social housing and the rental market are the critical missing elements.

“320 TWh of low-carbon generation by 2030”

We also welcome the CCC recommendation for a specific capacity target for renewable generation – if the government were to set a target, it would increase investor confidence and precipitate investment in the UK renewable industry.

“We do not expect renewables without a Government-backed contract (so-called ‘merchant’ renewables) to be deployed at sufficient scale to meet the generation gap in 2030.”

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for the energy sector, the CCC are explicit that the renewable capacity needed will not be deployed without government backed contracts. We have been pushing government to address a revenue stabilisation measure in their forthcoming Energy White Paper – floor prices and measures to improve the REGO market are two options available which we are putting to government. We know that direct subsidy, of the likes of the Feed-in Tariff and CfDs, is unlikely to be repeated under the current government, but there are other, more cost-effective measures which could provide the support necessary. We set out a number of these in our response to the BEIS committee inquiry into energy industry investment.

The pressure is building on government to increase action on decarbonisation from campaigners, the public, industry and even parliament itself. The CCC gives these warnings a weight that the government cannot ignore – their well-evidenced, thorough recommendations come to an unavoidable conclusion; we must act with more urgency.

 

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