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Committee on Climate Change puts the heat on heating in Global Warming report

Net Zero report from influential govt committee says ‘current policies are not enough’

The cross-party Committee on Climate Change has laid down another series of stiff challenges to both the heating industry and to the government n its new report: Net Zero: The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming.

The report sets out in stark terms the actions that will have to be taken if the UK is to limit the rise in global warming.  This includes calls for a new target of ensuring ’net zero’ greenhouse gases by 2050 - as soon as 2045 for Scotland - requiring a 100 per cent reduction in emissions. Wales has slightly lower targets than the UK as a whole, and should adopt a target for a 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, the report says.

To meet this new target, the CCC says, will require a thorough overhaul of the current timescales for low carbon heating and a new set of priorities. Key among these are the requirement to extend the low carbon heating drive to all buildings, not just to newbuild properties, and to step up development of a hydrogen infrastructure, which it describes as ’a necessity, not an option.’ Underpinning this is a requirement to quadruple the supply of low carbon electricity.

The report explicitly criticises the speed of adopton of new heating methods, emphasising ’“there is still no serious plan for decarbonising UK heating systems and no large-scale trials have begun for either heat pumps or hydrogen”. 

It says the foundations are in place for a ramp-up for the technologies and that the policies required to deliver key pillars of a net-zero economy are already active or in development.  However, it emphasises: “…These policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets.”

The CCC said: ”Ten years after the Climate Change Act became law, now is the right moment to set a more ambitious goal. Achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement; the pact which the UK and the rest of the world signed in 2015 to curb dramatically the polluting gases that cause climate change…”

It believes that the targets ’are achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives’, and it urges the government to put them into law as soon as possible. It adds that falls in cost for some of the key zero-carbon technologies mean that achieving net-zero is now possible within the economic cost that Parliament originally accepted when it passed the Climate Change Act in 2008.

It reserves some of its strongest words for the government:  ”The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency. The public will need to be engaged if the transition is to succeed. Serious plans are needed to clean up the UK’s heating systems, to deliver the infrastructure for carbon capture and storage technology and to drive transformational change in how we use our land.”

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said: “We can all see that the climate is changing and it needs a serious response. The great news is that it is not only possible for the UK to play its full part – we explain how in our new report – but it can be done within the cost envelope that Parliament has already accepted. The government should accept the recommendations and set about making the changes needed to deliver them without delay.”

Clearly in anticipation of this report, the UK Green Building Council has published a framework for reaching net zero, in both contstruction and building operation.

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