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Thursday, 30 June 2016 14:12

Business reassured in turbulent Brexit times over Gov't adoption of 5th Carbon Budget

Environment Times has received mostly positive reaction, but with caveats, to the Government's confirmed commitment to a 5th Carbon Budget in these post Brexit turbulent times from bodies concerned with business creating a low carbon future.

Lord Stern comments on the publication of the proposed Fifth Carbon Budget
brexit nicholas stern copyLord Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE said: "Businesses and investors will be reassured by the Government's welcome and constructive decision to accept the advice of the expert and independent Committee on Climate Change to set the Fifth Carbon Budget at a level that will mean annual emissions of greenhouse gases over the five-year period between 2028 and 2032 will be 57 per cent lower on average than in 1990.

"The Committee's advice was based on sound and careful analysis of the most cost-effective path towards the ultimate goal of the Climate Change Act for the UK to reduce emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 compared with 1990.

"We must also recognise that the UK's emissions targets will need to be strengthened to be consistent with the goal of the Paris Agreement to "holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

"The Committee has warned today that to meet our current targets, the UK will need to take much stronger action to cut emissions, particularly outside the power sector. There should be a special focus on making our cities less polluted and congested, more efficient, less wasteful, lower carbon and more climate-resilient. For instance, we can and should cut transport emissions by accelerating the development of zero-emissions vehicles, improving public transport, and exploring the potential for self-drive cars. This will make UK's cities more attractive places to work and live, and we will be able to attract the innovative and creative talent that is crucial to increasing growth and prosperity.

"The UK has already demonstrated that we can both grow and tackle climate change by reducing its annual emissions by about 38 per cent by 2015 compared with 1990, while also increasing its GDP by more than 60 per cent over the same period. The next Prime Minister should recognise the enormous potential for the low-carbon economy to drive growth, raise prosperity and enhance well-being."
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment

EEF welcomes the setting of the 5th carbon budget
brexit claire jakobssonEEF welcomed today's announcement that the Government has set the 5th carbon budget in line with the Committee on Climate Change's advice.

Claire Jakobsson, Head of Energy and Environment Policy at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, says: "Today's announcement from the Government, setting the Fifth Carbon Budget in line with the Committee on Climate Change's recommendation, is to be welcomed not least by those manufacturers sitting in many of the UK's low carbon supply chains.

"With the unprecedented level of uncertainty created by last week's referendum result, it is essential that the Government looks to provide stability and continuity where it is able to. Confirming the Fifth Budget at this level provides a positive signal that whatever the UK's future relationship with the EU is to be, the scale of our emissions reduction ambitions and the direction of travel will remain unchanged.

"Government must now work closely with industry to develop the detail that will underpin this target, ensuring a framework that helps our most energy intensive industries decarbonise competitively, but also drawing on the strengths of UK manufacturing to ensure the UK economy feels the full economic benefit of our decarbonisation drive."

Ambitious Fifth Carbon Budget Welcomed by Sustainability Professionals - IEMA says take up of independent recommendations "provides clarity"
Today's confirmation that UK Government is set to adopt the independent Committee on Climate Change's recommendation for the Fifth Carbon Budget has been welcomed by Environment & Sustainability Professionals.

IEMA says this decision gives a clear and positive signal of the UK's transition to a low carbon and sustainable economy at a critical time for UK environment policy. This is evidenced by IEMA research carried out in May which found that almost 90% (87.3%) of Environment & Sustainability professionals believed that the UK Government should accept the Committee on Climate Change recommendation.

brexit iema baxterComing just days after the UK's decision to leave the EU sparked widespread concern about the future policy landscape, Martin Baxter, IEMA's Chief Policy Advisor said today: "This decision comes at a critical time for the UK and provides much needed clarity on the long-term direction of travel towards a low-carbon economy.

"Post Brexit, our future prosperity is increasingly dependent on us seizing the opportunity to make the necessary changes to address long-term sustainability challenges. Climate change is a defining issue of our time and significant opportunities exist to create jobs, boost productivity and enhance competitiveness by reducing our carbon emissions," he continued.

"Achieving the 2030 target will require concerted action and investment. The recent referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU makes the job harder but not impossible. The true test of climate leadership is about sustaining the implementation of policies to achieve long-term climate goals. This decision on the fifth carbon budget provides the basis for giving confidence for investment, innovation, progressive transformation and effective action over the long-term. It must also be reinforced with a clear, post-Brexit, confirmation of the UK's international commitments and UK ratification of the Paris climate agreement".

In the UK, the Climate Change Act (2008) sets an 80% GHG emissions reduction target for 2050 compared to 1990, with a rolling programme of the carbon-budgets, each spanning a 5-year period. Under the Act, Government is required to set a legally binding carbon budget for the period 2028-2032 by the end of June 2016. The independent Committee on Climate Change recommended a budget that would limit annual emissions to an average 57% below 1990 levels, as being the most cost effective way for the UK to achieve its long-term climate targets.

Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, underlines UK commitment to climate action despite decision to leave EU
brexit amber rudd copyGiving a keynote speech yesterday at the opening of the second day of the Business & Climate Summit in London's Guildhall, UK Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Amber Rudd MP re-affirmed UK leadership on action against climate change despite vote to leave the European Union. She said: "Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long term risks to our economic and national security. I was lucky enough to lead the world-class team of British diplomats at last year's Paris climate talks. Our efforts were central to delivering that historic deal.

"And, the UK will not step back from that international leadership. We must not turn our back on Europe or the world ... So while I think the UK's role in dealing with a warming planet may have been made harder by the decision last Thursday, our commitment to dealing with it has not gone away."

She also went on to reaffirm commitments to low carbon investment, saying: "Investment in renewables has increased by 42% since 2010. In 2014, 30% of all of Europe's renewable energy investment took place in the UK. Annual support for renewables is expected to double during this Parliament to more than £10 billion."

The Business & Climate Summit – the annual gathering of leading global businesses and politicians dedicated to climate action – met over two days at London's Guildhall to address how business can, and should, respond to the historic Paris Agreement reached by world governments last December.
Business & Climate Summit

Greenpeace reaction to fifth carbon budget
In response to the government announcement it will adopt the recommended emissions target and the Committee on Climate Change's, in our view, damning report on the government's progress, John Sauven, Greenpeace director said: "The government has kept its word to adopt this important target to limit the UK's carbon emissions. This is music to our ears. It shows the government's ongoing commitment to the UK's Climate Change Act and its ambition to remain a leader on climate action, following the historic Paris agreement. It's vital this consensus remains cross-party in these uncertain times.

"But, it's no good having numbers on spreadsheets without the delivery to match. The absence of clear government plans and support for action on renewable energy, homes, cars, agriculture and planes shows how far the rhetoric of climate action has drifted from anything real. The only plan the government seems to have is expensive and dodgy nuclear power stations where the Committee now says the government need a plan B because they might not happen."
Greenpeace UK

brexit solar selwynSolar industry welcomes expected fifth carbon budget but important questions remain
The Solar Trade Association has welcomed the fact that the Government has adopted the UK's fifth carbon budget today to require a 57% reduction in emissions from by 2032 compared to 1990 levels.

However whilst the trade body applauds the Government for another clear statement of long-term ambition, important short and medium-term questions remain.

The Committee on Climate Change's (CCC) clear advice last November was that the Government should set a budget to follow the 'lowest cost path' to the long-term target and crucially that it should avoid stop-start investment. The committee pointed to a 'critical weakening of policies' after the election, including the cancellation of Zero Carbon Homes and expressed its concerns about the growing shortfall in delivering the fourth carbon budget for the period 2023-2027. The body also spelled out that 'favourable sites for [large] solar are likely to be as cheap or cheaper than gas-fired generation by 2020'.

Jonathan Selwyn, Chairman of the Solar Trade Association and Director of Solar Consulting Ltd, commented: "The Solar Trade Association very much welcomes the strong support expressed for solar by the Committee on Climate Change and by the Minister in her evidence to the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee yesterday."

"However, in our meeting this week with Minister Andrea Leadsom we urged her Department to take specific actions to address the significant slow-down in the industry following the recent changes to the solar support framework. We believe that a number of relatively minor changes could help stimulate the market."

"As an industry we are on the path to a subsidy-free future, we hope by the early 2020s. To achieve this, we need a flourishing UK industry and a government that allows us to compete on a level playing field with other renewables as well as nuclear and gas."

Seb Berry, Vice-Chairman of the Solar Trade Association and Head of Public Affairs at Solarcentury also commented. He said: "It doesn't make sense for the Government to continue to restrict the deployment of large-solar in the UK, while simultaneously preparing to ring-fence post 2020 Levy Control Framework spending on the hugely expensive Hinkley Point from 2023. It's disappointing that a Government that is publicly committed to promoting 'cost-effective' renewables continues to block any prospect of a second Contracts for Difference auction round for the very cheapest renewables, including solar."

"Yesterday Minister Andrea Leadsom told the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee that the Government now projected a total of 13 GWp of solar deployed in the UK by 2020. This represents a significant rowing back from Ministers' previous ambition for 20 GWp or more by the end of this decade."

"With solar prices falling further and with Ministers continuing to emphasise the importance of cutting 'subsidy', the Government should be working with us to ensure further growth of this cheap technology into the 2020s, particularly when the Committee on Climate Change estimates that 40 GWp by 2030 is possible."
Solar Trade Association

Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth senior climate campaigner Simon Bullock said: "After the huge confusion following the Brexit vote, we welcome the certainty this decision gives. Investors will now know that the UK is a place where low carbon investment can flourish.

"The big challenge is to ensure stronger policies to meet this carbon budget. The Committee on Climate Change has repeatedly warned that we are not on track to meet our climate goals for the 2020s.

"Floods and droughts don't care whether the UK is in the EU or not. We must get on with the urgent business of getting all the world's economies off the coal, oil and gas which are putting all our futures at risk.

"Protecting our homes, communities and environment from the ever-growing dangers of climate change must be a non-negotiable part of how the UK deals with the repercussions of Brexit."
Friends of the Earth

brexit carbon clientearthComment from environmental lawyers ClientEarth
Jonathan Church, Lawyer, Climate and Energy at ClientEarth said: "We welcome the Government's announcement today on the fifth carbon budget. Amidst the current political turmoil, the Government is sending a very important signal by reaffirming its commitment to cutting carbon emissions through the Climate Change Act, and to staying - if only just – on the path recommended by the Committee on Climate Change to meeting its 2050 emissions reduction target. The Paris Agreement is only six months old and the need for all countries to tackle climate change becomes ever more urgent.

"Today has brought valuable certainty in uncertain times. However, significant challenges remain. First, the fifth carbon budget must be passed in law immediately. It is understandable in the current climate that political logistics may delay this by a day or two. However, the Act gives an unambiguous deadline for setting the budget and this cannot be allowed to slip. Secondly, in the coming months, a new, credible and coherent set of policies needs to be prepared to deliver the emissions cuts that the UK is committed to. This new carbon budget gives Government and campaigners the boost they need to start working in earnest towards that goal."

Government should publish a plan setting out how to reach the new carbon targets - IPPR
Responding to the Government's announcement today that they will accept the advice of the Committee on Climate Change on the 5th carbon budget, Michael Jacobs, IPPR Associate Director for Energy, Transport and Climate Change, said: "The welcome news that the government has agreed the 5th Carbon Budget, cutting emissions by 57% by 2032, shows that Brexit does not weaken the UK's climate commitments. These are governed by the 2008 Climate Change Act passed by the UK Parliament, not by the EU.

"The Act now requires the Government to publish a plan showing how it will meet the new carbon budget. That will require our power supply to be almost completely decarbonised by 2030, along with substantial investment in energy efficiency, low carbon heat and support for electric vehicles. Whoever is Prime Minister, it is vital that the Government sets out these policies as soon as possible."

UK Carbon Budget vital to keep UK's place in low carbon world - Christian Aid
brexit carbon tom viitaResponding to today's Government announcement of the fifth carbon budget under the Climate Change Act, Christian Aid said it was urgent for the UK to confirm its commitment to tackling climate change at home and abroad by passing the budget quickly and at the recommended level.

Christian Aid's Senior UK Political Advisor, Tom Viita, said: "The fifth carbon budget must be a rallying call to action across government to get back on track with our climate change promises. Since 190 countries pledged action on climate change in last year's Paris Agreement, the world is firmly on a low-carbon footing. The race is now on as China, the USA and other countries move ahead with surprising speed.

"The UK is well positioned to thrive in the low-carbon future. The fifth carbon budget charts a path to a very low-carbon Britain over the next 15 years, but this must not just be words on the page, but a commitment to action across the UK.

"Parliament must move quickly and decisively to pass the fifth carbon budget today and show that, despite the political turmoil, there remains robust cross-party support for the actions to address climate change.

"Importantly, today the Climate Change Committee has spelled out how current policies fall far short of what is needed: so the Government must move decisively this autumn to put in place serious policies that will restore the confidence of businesses, investors and international allies that Britain will take the lead in a low-carbon world."

He added: "We welcome the Government's decision to accept in full the advice of the Climate Change Committee. Anything less than this recommended level of ambition would be a betrayal of the needs of the world's poorest people, who need every country to play its part in this global challenge.

"We are already seeing the impacts on climate change around the world, not only on the poorest communities suffering crop failures, spreading viruses and extreme weather, but even on our own shores.

"The UK's forthcoming climate risk assessment will outline more actions that need to be taken to keep communities safe. The UK is playing a leading role in helping those overseas adapt to the changing climate. It should do the same at home."
Christian Aid