Climate Committee unveils its plans

The new Committee on Climate Change set out its priorities for guiding UK climate policy on Wednesday

The Committee on Climate Change will play a central role in UK climate policy once the new Climate Change Act comes into force. It will have responsibility for advising government on the mandatory emissions reduction targets for 2020 and 2050 and for proposing the levels of the interim five-yearly carbon budgets.

The committee published a document on Wednesday setting out its work plans and explaining the process it will go through when making decisions.

It divides its work into five areas:

  • setting the 2050 target
  • setting carbon budgets and emissions reduction trajectory up to 2020
  • deciding whether to include international aviation or shipping in the UK targets
  • deciding whether the targets should be for carbon dioxide or include other greenhouse gases
  • considering the implications for other issues such as fuel poverty and security of supply
  • The committee has until December to provide a report to government on these issues. The work plan explains that in setting the 2050 target, the committee will consider what global emissions reductions are required to avoid dangerous climate change and then determine the appropriate UK contribution to achieving that.

    This will be informed by a raft of factors such as technological developments, cost, and progress towards an international agreement. It will also base its advice on “principles of burden sharing” such as a move to equal per-capita emissions by country in the long term, share of past emissions, and the UK’s abatement potential. It warns that these “are likely to imply very significant cuts (eg 60% plus) from developed countries like the UK”.

    In setting carbon budgets, the committee will also consider other factors such as the relative contribution that different sectors of the economy should make to the target, the roles of foreign credits and the implications for the competitiveness of UK industries.

    The committee makes clear that it will not only advise on targets, but will also make detailed policy recommendations on the mix of measures the government should employ to meet them.

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