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UK government seeks advice on setting stricter carbon reduction targets

Independent Committee on Climate Change is asked to review viability and impact of new ‘net zero’ emissions deadline; government commits to funding for smarter heating approaches

The government has asked the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for advice on setting a date for when the UK could achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions.  Feedback is also being sought over whether a review may be needed of existing aims over the next three decades to cut carbon output by 80 per cent of 1990 levels.

Calls for advice on revising these targets could have major implications for the HVAC industry and how it embraces greener energy and system design, with the government also announcing new measures to transform how heat can be generated and managed for commercial and domestic use.

These measures follow on from calls this month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for governments to introduce stricter global targets for addressing climate change.

The UN-established group has warned that previous commitments to limit temperature planet-wide rises to 2 degrees Celsius will not avoid irreversible impacts from global warming. It therefore said that this target must be revised to a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius instead.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry has now asked the CCC to consider the potential costs and benefits to pushing for a ‘net zero’ gas emission target when compared to the UK’s current aims to tackle the carbon footprint of industry, transport and agriculture.

The minister said in a statement that was timed to coincide with the launch of the inaugural ‘Green Great Britain and Northern Ireland Week’ that it was clear governments, businesses and communities would need to do more to address fears over the impacts of climate change.

She said, “That’s why we’re asking the independent climate experts of the CCC for advice on a roadmap to a net zero economy, including how emissions might be reduced and the expected costs and benefits of doing so.”

“The case for tackling climate change is starker than ever before.”

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) industry body said the government’s decision to ask for a review of how it may be possible to achieve net zero emissions was an important step in rethinking national and industry commitments.

UKGBC chief executive Julie Hirigoyen said government had signalled some ambition to look at how it may be possible to try and limit temperature rises to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

She said, “If the Committee on Climate Change follows the lead of last week’s IPCC report, it seems likely that we could soon see a new Climate Change Act with a UK-wide target to achieve net zero emissions ahead of 2050.”

“While government leadership is vital, we all have a role to play in achieving a net zero economy. This will have far-reaching impacts for businesses, organisations and local authorities that have previously set their own targets in line with a 2 degrees C limit. UKGBC will be leading action in the UK’s property and construction industry under a new Advancing Net Zero programme launching later this week, which aims to drive the transition to a net zero carbon-built environment.”

Energy infrastructure

The government said it was also committing to open an £18m Heat Recovery Support scheme for businesses and manufacturing firms to improve the energy efficiency of their operations.

A £320m government fund for low-carbon heating in cities is being established alongside this with Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management appointed to oversee the project.

The UK government said it also intends to outline fresh legislation to apply to smart energy appliances such as electric heating technologies to ensure a widespread approach to more energy efficient buildings over the next decade.

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