Yesterday came suddenly as the Beatles sang. 

The Climate Change Act requires the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to report annually to the Parliament on emissions reductions relative to the UK’s carbon budgets. The first report of the commttee was published yesterday.   "A step change is required in the pace of UK emissions reduction to meet carbon budgets," concluded the CCC and that "in some areas, new policy approaches will be required to deliver the Government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan." It turns out emissions data are not yet available for the initial year 2008 of the first budget. Here I include what I found, the UK pie chart for 2004 carbon dioxide emissions, with credit due to NETCEN and BBC.   

Carbon dioxide emissions by source for 2004. Total amounts to 153.0 million tonnes (carbon equivalent) excluding emissions/removals from land use changes and forestry.   

Meeting Carbon Budgets - the need for a step change
 evaluates the progress that has been made by Government in reducing emissions and the implications of the recession and "credit crunch" for meeting carbon budgets. The report sets out the emission reduction indicators that will be used to judge progress and provide a detailled analysis of the policies required to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from electricity generation, from buildings and industry, heat and transport in the years ahead till the end of the third carbon budget period in 2022. Key findings are: 
  • In the 5 years 2003-2007, emissions reductions averaged 0.5% per annum: going forward, reductions of 2-3%pa will be required to meet the carbon budgets. A step change in the pace of reduction is needed. 
  • Declining economic activity is likely to have produced an emissions cut of around 2% in 2008, and recession could reduce emissions in the first budget period by a total of 40-70 million tonnes. But recession induced reductions must not be confused with underlying progress, which could be undermined by a recession induced fall in the carbon price. The UK should now aim to overachieve emissions reductions in the first budget period.

Analysis of the actions needed to ensure delivery of the first three carbon budgets, suggests a need to revise or strengthen policy in 3 areas: (1) electricity generation, (2) residential and commercial buildings and heat, (3) road transport. 

Rapid decarbonization of electricity generation is crucial. Senarios to achieve a reduction in grams per kWh from today’s 540g CO2/kWh to less than 300g CO2/kWh in 2020, could include 23 GW of new wind capacity, up to 3 new nuclear stations and up to 4 carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plants by 2016.  (The chart below shows the UK's electricity production for trends from 1980 to 2006. Notice "thermal" catches fossil mostly.)

Electricity production in the UK.PNG
(Credit: Wikipedia)

Energy efficiency in homes could be improved by 35% by 2020 with an ambitious program of improved insulation (e.g. covering 10 million lofts, 7 million cavity walls and 2 million solid walls), the installation of 12 million energy efficient condensing boilers, and major improvements in electrical appliance efficiency. Eergy efficiency of buildings would

be addressed street by street, area by area across the UK, much as the switch over to natural gas was achieved in the 1970s.

 Currently 1% of the heat is from renewable sources. The Government has committed to increase this to 12% by 2020 in its Renewable Energy Strategy.

Transport is responsible for 25% of emissions -- ( see  21.3% in 2004). There are 3 major areas through which to achieve deep reductions:

1. Improving the efficiency of petrol/diesel powered cars

2. Widespread roll-out of electric cars

3. Emission reductions from consumer behavior change and land use planning.

Meeting carbon budgets in 2020 will require a reduction in average per person emissions from the current level of 9 to 6 tCO2.

What will this mean on a personal level?

• Meet more of their energy needs from low-carbon power.

• Live in well-insulated homes with new efficient boilers and advanced heating controls.

• Purchase energy-efficient appliances and use these on low-carbon cycles (e.g. low temperature washing and dishwashing).

• Work in energy-efficient offices with power and heating from low carbon sources.

• Drive more carbon-efficient cars, including hybrids, electric cars or plug-in hybrids with charging infrastructure at home, at work, and in public places.

• Drive in an eco-friendly manner (e.g. not carrying excess weight in the car) and within the existing speed limit.

• Plan journeys better and use public transport more.

London by night as seen from the International Space Station

The CCC called on the Government to build on its Low Carbon Transition Plan, moving from a high level vision to developing and putting in place a framework for delivery to which people and businesses can respond. Lord Nicholas Stern welcomed the Committee's report saying:

"The Committee on Climate Change has produced a report which charts both the way forward in monitoring targets, emissions and policies and shows what will be required to achieve the necessary emissions reductions; it is a fine piece of work, which should be supported across the political spectrum and which will enhance the UK's role in fostering global understanding and agreement".

Yesterday came suddenly as the Beatles sang.

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