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17 Aug 2023 | News

Climate Crisis Looms as UK Misses Mark on Emission Reduction: 2023 CCC Report Reveals Grim Reality of Government's Inaction

Climate Crisis Looms as UK Misses Mark on Emission Reduction: 2023 CCC Report Reveals Grim Reality of Government's Inaction

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) recently presented the 2023 Progress Report to Parliament, providing a detailed overview of the UK Government's progress in reducing emissions, or in this case lack of progress.  

Presented on 28th June 2023, the UK government's plans to achieve net zero emissions have come under criticism in a recent report by the Climate Change Committee (CCC). The report highlights that the government is falling short of its targets on nearly all fronts. Despite new details from the government, the CCC's confidence in the UK meeting its medium-term targets has decreased in the past year. 

The report reveals that there is little progress on transport emissions, no cohesive program for behaviour change, and still no decision on hydrogen for home heating. The installation of new wind and solar farms and upgrading the electricity grid are still too slow to meet net zero. The report also shows that fewer homes were insulated under the government-backed scheme last year than before. 

Lord Deben, the outgoing chair of the CCC, said the UK had "lost the leadership" on climate action and done "a number of things" that were "utterly unacceptable".  

The CCC has urged the government to broaden the national effort to every corner of the UK economy, face the critics, and take bold steps towards achieving net zero targets. This means investing now in low-carbon industries to deliver lasting economic benefits to the country. It also means confidently committing to the key dates and policies that will deliver zero-emission buildings and transport. In the report, the CCC also urges the government to earn the support of farmers and rural communities with policies that bring together our climate and food security aims. It requires an unambiguous commitment to the fossil fuel phase-out, accepting that global reserves are already too great. And it means providing people in the UK with alternative choices that benefit the climate. 

The report also states that UK greenhouse gas emissions were 450 MtCO2e in 2022, including the UK's share of international aviation and shipping, which is 46% below 1990 levels. This is an increase of 0.8% since 2021 but remains 9% below pre-pandemic (2019) levels. Transient differences in demand and temperature mainly drove changes in emissions in 2022. Aviation emissions almost doubled in 2022 compared with 2021 as the sector recovered from the pandemic but remained 25% lower than in 2019. Surface transport emissions increased by 3% but remained 8% below pre-pandemic (2019) levels, with some evidence that car kilometres have reached a reduced steady state. Home emissions fell by 16%, largely driven by winter temperatures but with some effect due to high fossil fuel prices. 

The CCC report emphasises that the rate of emissions reduction will need to significantly increase for the UK to meet its 2030 NDC and the Sixth Carbon Budget. If the UK is to achieve its NDC, the rate of emissions reduction outside the electricity supply sector must almost quadruple, from 1.2% annual reductions to 4.7%. The government's quantified plans in the CBDP fall slightly short of this, falling by an annual average of 4.4%, with the government taking the position that unquantified plans will make up this shortfall. 

Policies with immediate delivery are needed in parallel with the development of new strategic visions. In most sectors, a clear set of actions can be taken now and should be pursued while the longer-term picture is clarified. Regarding the built environment, the CCC further states that the government should push forward on areas with no-regret and low-regret options and seek to develop and move forward with a strategic approach. 

Decarbonisation of buildings and their energy usage is critical to achieving the UK's net-zero targets. In their assessment, this is likely to entail pushing ahead with electrification wherever this is feasible, with – at most – a small, focused role for hydrogen use in buildings. Rapid and forceful pursuit of zero-carbon new-build, energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings, low-carbon heat networks, and electrification will reduce emissions and cut fossil fuel dependence this decade while developing the supply chains and public trust that are crucial enablers for subsequent acceleration of electrified heating solutions. 

Technology is vital to achieving these goals, and digital twins such as Twinview can help monitor, optimise and improve building performance. With insights into energy efficiency and building emissions, Twinview can help owners and managers make more informed decisions, improve sustainability and reduce costs. 

In summary, the CCC's report serves as a reminder that the UK Government needs to do more to achieve its net-zero targets. It's time for the government to take immediate action, invest in low-carbon industries, and adopt policies that encourage behavioural shifts towards sustainable practices. By embracing technology such as digital twins, the UK can achieve its ambitious targets and lead the way in the fight against climate change. 

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