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Millennials Will Foot The Bill if The UK Doesn't Start Cutting Its Emissions Faster

The UK needs to act now.

SCIENCE AF STAFF
28 JUN 2018
 

Since 1990, the United Kingdom has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by about 42 percent, but even though good progress has been made, things are beginning to stall.

In a new report, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which provides independent advice to the UK government on building a low-carbon economy and preparing for climate change, says they are "acutely concerned" by the UK's lack of progress.

 

The UK's ambitious goal is to cut emissions 80 percent by 2050, which means the country is almost halfway there.

But while the committee's 2018 annual report reveals an impressive emissions reduction in the power sector, other sectors in the UK are "lagging behind." For instance, emissions from transport, buildings and agriculture have all hit a plateau, ultimately placing the UK's 2050 target at risk.

PR18 Infographic Power 1024x705(CCC)

The CCC warns that if the government doesn't start curbing emissions faster, the next generation will have to foot the bill.

In particular, the chair of the CCC Lord Debon, is worried by the government's decision to ban subsidies for onshore wind, even though experts have warned that the move could make energy bills more expensive.

"I mean what on Earth is the government doing saying even where a community wants to have an onshore windfarm it can't have it? This is sheer dogma," Debon told Today.

"The fact of the matter is, it is the cheapest form of producing electricity today and we need to have more of it."

Recent studies have shown that onshore wind and solar energy in 2018 are the lowest-cost ways of generating electricity. One study found that offshore wind in the UK is cheaper than new gas. Another predicts that renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020.

 

The inevitable destination is clear, but the UK government seems to be resisting the change.

"And that means the next generation will pay more for the cost of moving from a carbon intensive society to the kind of low carbon no carbon society we need," added Debon.

The CCC is proposing four changes that the UK should implement in order to meet its emission targets and reduce the financial pressure on future generations.

1. Support simple, low-cost options for cutting emissions. These include things like onshore wind farms, tree planting and recycling food waste, as the infographic explains below:

Screen Shot 2018 06 28 at 1.44.44 pm(CCC)

2. Commit to effective regulation and strict enforcement of environmental policies. In particular, the CCC argues that there are not enough long-term standards in areas like road transport and buildings.

3. End the chopping and changing of policy. The authors argue that when the UK abruptly cancels important initiatives like the Zero Carbon Homes plan, the lack of consistent policy carries a "real cost" when it comes to investors and business confidence.

Screen Shot 2018 06 28 at 1.44.37 pm(CCC)

4. Act Now. All of these changes need to take place as soon as possible, because when it comes to climate change, time is not something the world has in spades. The longer we wait, the more money millennials will have to dish out in the future.

The report concludes that failing to implement these changes "will set the UK on a path to miss its legally binding carbon budgets and store up unnecessary costs for the future."

The full study has been published by the Committee on Climate Change.

 

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