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CCC reports UK emissions reduction, calls for transport decarbonisation to drive green recovery

Published July 6, 2020

CCC reports UK emissions reduction, calls for transport decarbonisation to drive green recovery

The UK is meeting its short-term net zero targets but is not on track to meet its medium-term targets, according to the Committee on Climate Change.  

The Climate Committee’s annual report to Parliament shows UK carbon emissions reduced by 3-4% in 2018-2019, a cut of 30% between 2008 and 2019. 

For the first time, the Climate Committee has also made specific recommendations to each government department on measures they should implement to ensure a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

These include measures to reduce Scope 3 carbon emissions, including bringing forward the ban on new petrol/diesel and plug-in hybrid car/van sales to 2032 at the latest, and setting more ambitious regulations on emissions from new cars and vans to 2030.  

“This raft of new recommendations may be required to maintain the UK’s trajectory to net zero, but there also needs to be stronger levers in place if the UK is to demonstrate climate leadership at the COP 21 meeting in Glasgow. The target is the easy bit,” said Jeremy Nicholson, corporate affairs officer at Alfa Energy. 

The UK’s downward trend in carbon emissions was largely a result of progress in electricity generation, underpinned by government policy, the Committee said. The government must now replicate this throughout the economy. 

In 2020, global emissions are expected to fall by a record 5-10% as a result of the pandemic. The fall may be even larger in the UK, but the Climate Committee warned that CO2 emissions must still be cut consistently every year if net zero targets are to be met.   

The Climate Committee’s new report provides further detail on how the UK could build a green recovery from the pandemic. For the first time, the Committee has addressed its recommendations to each government department. These recommendations cover energy infrastructure and networks, low-carbon refits of buildings, green infrastructure and tree planting, the circular economy, and workforce training and funding for scientific research and innovation.  

Of particular interest to companies looking to reduce Scope 3 carbon emissions are measures the Climate Committee says should be taken over the next two years by the Department of Transport. The report asks the department to:  

  • Confirm bringing forward the ban on new petrol/diesel and plug-in hybrid car/van sales to 2032 at the latest.  
  • Set more ambitious UK regulations on new car/van CO₂ to 2030, with more regular intervals than the EU’s five years, backed by a rigorous real-world testing regime. 
  • Introduce a Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate requiring increasing shares of sales to be zero carbon, reaching 100% by 2032 at the latest. Continue to support EV infrastructure to ensure it is not a barrier to uptake. 
  • Implement a strategy to transition to zero carbon freight, including stronger purchase incentives, infrastructure plans, and clean air zones. Evaluate schemes to reduce HGV and van use in urban areas   
  • Trial zero emission HGVs to establish which is the most suitable and cost-effective technology. Evaluate and increase support for HGV logistics improvement schemes. Strengthen incentives to buy more efficient and zero-carbon HGVs.  

As Nikki Wilson, carbon compliance manager at Alfa Energy, pointed out: “In order to comply with SECR, companies must include emissions from owned transport and business mileage in their carbon footprint. Under SECR, companies initially only have to report the first year of carbon emissions, but in the second year they will have to compare with the previous year’s and will want to show reductions.”