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CCC 2018 Progress Report - UK off-track on emissions targets; transport is key sector of concern

Thu 28 June 2018 | Back to news list

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says the UK is behind schedule in terms of meeting legally-binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the 2020s and 2030s. The CCC says that the Government must learn from the lessons of the last decade and unless action is taken now, the shift to a low carbon economy may be unnecessarily expensive.

The Committee reports that overall UK emissions are down 43% compared to the 1990 baseline while the economy has grown significantly over the same period. A clear separation of GDP growth and GHG emissions has been made and should be celebrated.

Since 2008, the UK has seen a rapid reduction in emissions in the electricity sector, but this achievement masks a marked failure to decarbonise other sectors, including transport, agriculture and buildings. It says that in the last five years, emissions reductions in these areas have stalled and, as a result, the UK is not on course to meet the fourth (2023-2027) or fifth (2028-2032) carbon budgets.

The CCC says the Government must reduce the risks to the delivery of existing policies and bring forward effective new policies to deliver commitments beyond the achievements in electricity generation and waste.

The CCC has commended the ambition of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy but criticised the lack of detailed policy proposals in it. It also comments on delays to the DfT's ‘Road to Zero’ strategy which had been expected to be published in March this year.

The Committee sets out four key messages to Government to put emissions reductions on track, based on the lessons of the last decade:

  • Support the simple, low-cost options
  • Commit to effective regulation and strict enforcement
  • End the chopping and changing of policy
  • Act now to keep long-term options open

While emissions in other sectors have reduced, the Committee says that transport has grown as a share of overall emissions (to 27%) and was the largest emitting sector of the UK economy in 2017.

The Committee issued several key messages on transport.

It says that cost-effective reductions in emissions from transport are not being delivered across almost all indicators and that demand for travel continues to grow across cars and vans, while efficiency improvements have slowed. The committee identified specific policy needs in the next 12 months in an effort to focus on the clear actions they expect.

It notes that test-cycle new car CO2 emitted per mile has increased for the first time since records began (in 2000), increasing by 0.8% in 2017. It says that this is largely due to people buying larger cars, with only a small part arising from the switch away from diesel.

While sales of electric vehicles (EVs) have increased (to 1.9% of new cars in 2017) this is lower than the Committee’s indicator of 2.2%. The CCC notes that demand for electric vehicles is outstripping manufacturer supply leading to long wait times for orders, and that it's likely that sales are being suppressed as a result.

The CCC's key recommendations on transport are for:

  • Greater clarity about the UK's regulatory approach to the EU 2020/21 new car and van CO2 targets and proposed targets for 2025 and 2030. It says that if the UK is not covered by these targets, there is little incentive for manufacturers to sell their most efficient conventional and electric vehicles in the UK.
  • More stretching proposals than the current EU new car and van CO2 targets for 2025 and 2030 and reinforce those targets with a real driving emissions tests or monitoring of fuel consumption meters.
  • Increased ambition on the sale of electric cars and vans by setting stretching targets for 2030. More ambitious targets should be set so that electric vehicles represent 60% of new car and van sales in 2030.
  • Ensuring adequate charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, with a focus on future-proofing new homes and improving charging provision on-street and in workplaces.
  • Consideration of the connection of chargers to the grid, and whether there needs to be additional incentives or legislation to ensure ease of access by charge point providers.
  • Ensuring that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles deliver near-zero real-world emissions by setting a minimum zero emission range requirement for plug-in hybrids that can be sold from 2035 onward.
  • The implementation stronger fiscal incentives (including vehicle excise duty and company car tax) encouraging people to buy lower emitting and ultra-low emission vehicles.
  • Incentivisation of increased levels of cycling, walking and public transport and so moderate the increase in demand for passenger car travel. The decline in bus usage across the UK must be addressed.
  • Setting out of a regulatory approach to new HGV CO2 targets for 2025 and 2030, in line with the new proposal from the European Commission.
  • Reducing emissions from freight by shifting freight from road to rail, improving logistics efficiency and uptake of eco-driving measures.
  • Investigating barriers to accessing OLEV funding for ultra-low emission trucks.
  • Enforcing of speed limits on major roads can reduce emissions by ensuring cars are efficiently driven and increase road safety.

Claire Perry, the BEIS minister responsible for the policy area welcomed the report and said that the Government response will be published in the inaugural "Green Great Britain Week", coming in October.

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