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Committee on Climate Change wants higher target

More action is needed on decarbonising heating and energy supplies to allow greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by at least 80 per cent by 2050 - according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

The body established to advise the Government on climate change policy says it has to raise the existing 60 per cent target to make sure the UK makes an adequate contribution to global efforts to combat rising temperatures.

Measures being recommended include:

Decarbonising the heat sector - increasing the use of biomass in boilers and Combined Heat and Power, the expansion of air exchange and ground source heat pump use and modern electric storage heating.

Raising energy efficiency in buildings and industry - including insulation, use of more efficient appliances and using less air conditioning.

Decarbonising the power network -  replaceming existing conventional fossil fuel fired plant with renewable technologies, nuclear and CCS.

Lord Turner, CCC chairman, said:  “We have the potential to reduce our emissions by 80 per cent or more by using energy far more efficiently, by investing in developing new energy sources and by making relatively minor lifestyle changes.

“Using energy more efficiently makes economic as well as environmental sense: many of the changes needed will not cost but save money. And overall, the cost to the UK of meeting our proposed targets will be affordable, and very small compared with the potential consequences and costs of inaction.”

Merlin Hyman, Director of the Environmental Industries Commission, said: “If the government is serious about tackling climate change it must adopt the Committee’s recommendations in full.

“Simply setting the targets, however, is not enough. Meeting the targets will require urgent government action and the first priority must be a step change in energy efficiency.

“EIC welcome the Committee’s focus on energy efficiency and believe that a step change in the way we use energy in the UK is the cheapest and most effective way of meeting the targets.

'We urgently need, therefore, a range of policies for securing energy savings right across the economy that are as equally ambitious.”

The EIC has called for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to be extended to all sectors, more ambitious targets for the Carbon Reduction Commitment and action to reduce emissions from existing buildings.

The CCC’s full report on the 2050 target and the level of the UK’s first three carbon budgets, will be published on December 1, 2008.