Government advisers urge tighter emissions cut goals to 2030
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should commit to a higher greenhouse gas emissions cut target to 2030 as part of global efforts to tackle climate change, a climate advisory body to the government said on Tuesday.
United Nations' talks in Mexico, which end on December 10, are still overshadowed by clashes between rich and developing nations over the future of a new global climate pact.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommended in a report to the UK government that it should set a new goal to cut emissions by 60 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
The government currently has a short-term goal to cut emissions by 34 percent by 2020 and a long-term target of 80 percent by 2050, both based on 1990 levels.
A new interim target would mean the government's 2020 goal would have to rise to a 37 percent cut, which could be increased further to 42 percent if the European Union moves to more ambitious climate change targets.
It would also mean emissions would have to be reduced by 62 percent from 2030 to meet the 2050 goal.
"We are recommending a stretching but realistic fourth carbon budget and 2030 target, achievable at a cost of less than 1 percent of GDP. Any less ambition would not be compatible with the 2050 target in the Climate Change Act," said the committee's chair Adair Turner. Chris Huhne, UK energy and climate change secretary, said the government will study the CCC's recommendations in detail and formally respond next spring.
"We know that the status quo will not be enough to cut carbon which is why we are planning to undertake a comprehensive review of the electricity market, increase home energy efficiency (...) and create a green investment bank," he said.
Radical electricity market reform and investment in low-carbon technologies such as wind, nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS), could reduce the carbon intensity of electricity used by 90 percent by 2030, the committee said.
Rolling out smart meters to homes and commercial buildings would also improve energy efficiency.
However, all this would require up to 40 gigawatts or 25 new large-scale low-carbon power stations to be added to the grid.
The government is due to propose new market reforms before the end of the year.
To achieve the 2030 target, the electricity industry would have to attract 200 billion pounds ($313.4 billion) of new investment by 2020 and another huge sum in the following decade, said the Association of Electricity Producers.
"In the present financial climate, there is a serious risk that this will not be available," said the association's chief executive David Porter.
The CCC also recommended that 60 percent of new vehicles should be electric vehicles by 2030, emissions from industry should be halved through more energy efficient processes and CCS technology and the use of biomass and biogas to meet 25 percent of all industrial heat demand by 2030.
Agriculture emissions could be cut by up to 20 percent over the next two decades through more efficient farming practices but the government also needs to implement stronger policies and incentives for farmers, it said.
(Editing by Sue Thomas)
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