Comment on Sixth Carbon Budget

Published:09 December 2020

Commenting on the Sixth Carbon Budget published today by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), Dr Jonathan Marshall, Head of Analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: "These stretching targets will see climate policies increasingly overlap with everyday life, bringing changes in the cars we drive, how we heat our homes, and how the products we buy are made. The overwhelming backing among the British public for climate action, at both governmental and individual levels, means that these measures are likely to be popular and well-supported, as long as well-thought policies are used to bring about change.

“Calling time on gas boilers will represent a major step on the UK’s path to a carbon neutral nation, and is a way for families up and down the country to take action on their carbon footprints. Switching to clean heat will not only cut emissions, it will reduce air pollution and – if supported with the right policies – dramatically cut energy bills. With strong suggestions that hydrogen will not be widely used to heat our homes, the CCC have given the Government the ammunition needed to make a big call on clean heat, which if done well could lead to a booming heat pump industry based on British soil.

“The Sixth Carbon Budget also brings with it a clear need to act in the short term. Setting targets is all well and good, but the next few years is key to whether we hit them or not. The Government is currently sitting on a slew of strategies, frameworks and plans that are tasked with decarbonising the economy; the recent increase in ambition only highlights the need for these to contain policies that match the rhetoric."

Dr Alison Doig, International Lead at ECIU, said: “In its report today the CCC demonstrates that, as president of COP26, the UK can show it is serious about delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement, by taking its advice.

“The CCC report demonstrates that taking bold action to decarbonise our economy makes sense for jobs and prosperity across the country, but also keeps the UK at the forefront of an international zero carbon revolution. Leading the world in renewable technologies, at the forefront of innovations, and building international confidence that net zero is possible.”

Professor Nathalie Seddon, Director of the Nature-based Solutions Initiative, Department of Zoology and Wadham College, University of Oxford, said: “When it comes to the role of UK ecosystems in climate change mitigation, we must not overlook our coastal and marine habitats such as saltmarshes, seas grass meadows and kelp forests; not only are these important sinks of GHGs but they play a role in protecting coastal communities and infrastructure from climate change impacts and support our fisheries.

“It is essential that new woodlands and energy crops do not threaten or replace native ecosystems such as grasslands, floodplain meadows or peatlands that store carbon and support biodiversity. Low diversity plantations with exotic species, meanwhile, will not deliver climate mitigation benefits over the long term, threaten biodiversity and should therefore be avoided.

“It is also vital to recognise that actions to enhance GHG removals in the land through nature-based solutions do not distract from the urgent need to rapidly scale back use of fossil fuels. Unless we radically decarbonise all sectors of the economy, warming will undermine the capacity of our ecosystems to draw down or store carbon, or provide any other benefits to society.”

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