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Though UK greenhouse gas emissions fell 7% in 2011, only about a tenth of this fall can be linked directly to proactive policy measures the Committee on Climate Change says in its latest report to the Government. The Committee says that the underlying rate of progress is only a quarter of what is required to meet future carbon budgets.
The CCC says that the Government must move from planning to delivering change in order to hasten progress towards the achievement of Climate Act targets.
The Committee makes a series of recommendations to stimulate more rapid progress towards cleaner transport, including calling for a reversal of the decision to end the company car tax relief exemption for zero and ultra-low emission vehicles from 2015 which was announced in the latest Budget.
David Kennedy, the CCC's Chief Executive said: “Much of last year’s fall in emissions was due to a combination of mild weather, rising fuel prices, falling incomes and transitory factors in power generation. But as the economy recovers it will be difficult to keep the country on track to meet carbon budgets. We need to tackle major challenges to drive emissions down across the economy – and to do this as a matter of urgency.”
“There are some good initiatives in the pipeline, but more is needed to improve the investment climate, and put in place incentives so that people and businesses can act. Key policies require further clarification, and gaps in the policy framework need to be addressed.
“Investing in low carbon assets remains a priority – this will put us on the economically sensible path, and allow us to avoid higher costs and risks due to delayed action”
The report highlights challenges remaining across the key emitting sectors. In tems of transport, the CCC says that while emissions from new cars have continued to fall there has been limited improvement in new van emissions and vehicle miles driven also appear to be on the increase.
It adds that consumer response to electric vehicles remains cautious so continued support from the government is required. There is more to do on changing travel behaviour, where much potential still remains untapped.
The Committee recommends that there is scope for strengthening policy incentives to encourage reduction in new van emissions. It says that the electric vehicle market needs to increase and developments here must be closely monitored. The decision on company car tax relief for electric vehicles announced at the last budget should be reversed.
The Committee adds that the Government should clarify how it will roll out sustainable travel programmes across the country.