UK advisory body in post-2020 call

The UK government looks likely to miss its medium-term carbon reduction goals and urgently needs to clarify the level of financial support it is willing to offer low-carbon technologies beyond 2020, a government climate advisory body says.

In a report to parliament the Committee on Climate Change says good progress has been made on electricity market reform and renewables investment. Wind capacity has increased from 3GW in 2008 to 11GW in 2013 and there is a strong project pipeline.

“However, this pipeline is at risk given uncertainty about ongoing political support for further investment,” says the committee.

For example, it claims that a failure to invest in onshore wind is a “departure from the cost-effective path” that will result in higher energy bills.

The Committee says this political uncertainty should be resolved as a matter of urgency through a package of measures including setting a power-sector decarbonisation target for 2030.

It says by 2016, the government should publish a commercialisation strategy for offshore wind that includes levels of ambition to 2030, cost reductions required to sustain that ambition, and the government’s role in supporting those reductions.

The body recommends that the government should decide which portfolio of technologies it will support and provide assurances about its long-term goals.

Overall the committee found that the UK is slipping behind on its carbon reduction targets, and will fail to meet them at the current rate of progress.

“The UK is still not on track to meet our statutory commitment to cut emissions by 80%,” says Committee chairman John Gummer. “The longer we leave it, the costlier it becomes.”

The report suggests that a continuation of current policies would result in a 21% to 23% reduction in emissions between 2013 and 2025, when a 31% reduction is required.

The Committee believes “the cost of closing this gap is affordable, through a combination of changes on the demand and supply side for electricity, transport and heat, based on the low-carbon technologies currently available, supported by some behaviour change”.