Plans to meet UK targets
Whilst our targets look challenging, there is good reason to be optimistic that we will meet them. The UK government has made strong commitments to tackle this, and its creation of the new Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), in 2008, which is really pushing things forward.
- This department combines the responsibility to protect our energy supply with the responsibility to tackle climate change.
- The two things are strongly, with the energy sector accounting for about 40% of our carbon dioxide emissions in 2008.
- Even if we ignore our climate change emissions targets, we will need to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels as we are starting to run out of North Sea oil and gas. We must do this or risk relying on volatile imports from overseas.
Plans to meet our targets
In 2009 DECC produced the Low Carbon Transition Plan, which is a detailed plan to get us to meet our 2020 emissions target.
- Key to the plan are "Climate budgets", which are set by the independent Committee on Climate Change. These are 5 year budgets, which step down to an average of 508 Mt CO2-eq per year between 2018-2022 , which will enable us to meet our 34% reduction target by 2020.
- Plan contains policies and strategies to reduce emissions in every sector.
- The UK Renewable Energy Strategy aims to deliver 15% of UK energy supply by 2020, which is a seven-fold increase during the next decade .
- Plans are in place to set up a "Smart Grid" that can cope with the fluctuating output from sources like wind power; the smart metering will also help consumers visualise their energy use in the home / office, helping to encourage energy saving behaviour.
- The Plan looks at: nuclear power, Carbon Capture and Storage, Central Heating and Power (CHP) schemes, low carbon construction and energy efficiency (including labelling: appliances, cars, houses, etc from A to G).
- There is the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) that started in April 2010. This is a "cap and trade" scheme for small-to-medium sized business in the UK, which will help encourage emissions reduction.
- It notes that, even with efficiency savings, increase in electricity demand is probable as sectors like residential, transport and business move away from fossil fuel for heating and power.
DECC is communicating well. With the new government in place, it has committed to produce an Annual Energy Statement. It has also recently created the 2050 Pathway Analysis, which will help make it clear to everyone that we face a real challenge to meet our energy supply demands, whilst also meeting our emission reduction targets.
- We need to reduce energy demand: cut down, insulate, etc.
- We need to rapidly switch over to renewable energy sources (e.g. on-shore and off-shore wind) ... hopefully the need for this is very clear to see, which will help fight against the Not In My Back Yard arguements, which have slowed our progress down in the past.
- It looks pretty clear that we will need to keep nuclear power going for the next few decades.
- And if the dream of Carbon Capture and Storage doesn't work, we are going to bigger and faster changes to meet the 2050 challenge.
Return to main Emissions Targets page