Government outlines review of education emissions reduction targets

15th October 2019

The UK government has responded to the reports from the Committee for Climate Change (CCC) today.

The government acknowledged the CCC’s point that the UK is on track to miss current required projections for the fourth and fifth carbon budgets (2023-32). They responded to this by stating ‘that the foundations in the Clean Growth Strategy provide the right basis for future action, and that these foundations must be further developed into firm policy, ambitious implementation and a co-ordinated approach across all sectors’.

They also recognised ‘an inspiring step change in public concern over the effects of climate change, as evidenced by the wave of activism we have seen in recent months – not just in the UK, but across the globe’.

There was little new information in relation to education, other than investment in building, heat and ventilation skills and some information about public bodies and carbon reduction.

The ‘Progress Against Actions and Milestones’ section mentioned the voluntary wider public and higher education sector emissions reduction target by 2020, and outlined a view to move to a more ambitious target during the 2020s. They gave the example of potentially ‘a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, against a 2009/10 baseline’. They also said ‘once a reporting framework is in place, and there is clear evidence of the impact of voluntary action, a mandatory target could be considered’. EAUC will work with BEIS in light of the move towards net zero targets by 2050 to ensure the government are mandating aspirational targets for the sector.

You can read the responses here:
  EAUC is disappointed that there is not more discussion of education’s role in tackling the climate crisis and we will discuss this with BEIS and DEFRA.
The Government's official press release:

The government has today (15 October 2019) set out how it will go further and faster to tackle climate change, in response to recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This comes 4 months after the UK became the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050.

The government’s official response to the CCC’s recommendation includes plans to strengthen governance to galvanise the whole of government to do more to tackle climate change and a bold and ambitious plan to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport.

Today’s response to the CCC sets out details of the wide-ranging action taken so far. Other new measures include:
  • proposals to dramatically improve commercial buildings in the private rented sector, with businesses set to benefit by saving up to £1 billion per year in energy bills by 2030. This includes a consultation on plans to improve the energy performance of rented commercial buildings. The proposal to set minimum energy efficiency standards at EPC band B by 2030 could reduce UK emissions by the equivalent of half a million homes – roughly the size of Birmingham
  • a consultation in 2020 on introducing mandatory in-use energy performance ratings for business buildings. This will be a key step in helping businesses to understand and manage the amount of energy they use
  • a consultation on proposals to make it simpler for large-scale energy storage facilities to obtain planning permission
  • an endorsement of the recommendations of the Energy Data Taskforce, unlocking the potential of data sharing across the energy system to support decarbonisation and reduce consumer bills
Today, the new Environment Bill will also be introduced in Parliament. The Bill outlines ambitious proposals to strengthen the UK’s standards of environmental protection post-Brexit with the establishment of a new public body – the Office for Environmental Protection which will also hold government and other public bodies to account on their environmental obligations, including on climate change.

Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:
"4 months ago the UK took the bold step of becoming the first country in the developed world to put into law our ambition to wipe out the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050, following the CCC’s advice.

"This builds on our long and proud track record of leadership - since 1990 we’ve cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 42% while growing our economy by more than two-thirds. More than half of our electricity currently comes from low carbon sources. And we will keep on going further and faster to ensure our action meets our ambition."

These new measures build on the UK’s record of action. Since committing in law to end the UK’s contribution to climate change entirely by 2050, the government has announced investment of around £2 billion in low carbon technologies to lead the race in developing solutions to tackle climate change from research and development in large-scale battery technology to speeding up the development of carbon capture capability.

Recognising the need to scale up efforts in the transport industry, the UK’s first Transport Decarbonisation Plan has been announced today to bring together a bold and ambitious programme of coordinated action needed to end the UK’s transport emissions by 2050.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
"From driving our cars, to catching a train or taking a flight abroad, it is crucial that we ensure transport is as environmentally friendly as possible.

"This is why, as well as agreeing to the CCC’s recommendation on net zero by 2050, we have launched this ground-breaking plan to achieve net zero emissions across every single mode of transport.

"We want to work with industry and communities around the country to develop this plan – to make our towns and cities better places to live, help to create new jobs, improve air quality and our health, and take urgent action on climate change."

Due to be complete next year, the first-of-a-kind plan will set out in detail what government, business and society will need to do to deliver the significant emissions reduction needed from all modes of transport. In particular it will consider how UK technology and innovation can be implemented to encourage major changes to the way people and goods move across the UK.
Earlier this month, the government announced up to £1 billion to develop and embed the next generation of cutting-edge automotive technologies. The funding will look to accelerate mass production of key technologies in the UK through major investments in the manufacturing of batteries including cells, modules and packs as well as electric motors, power electronics and hydrogen fuel cells.

The new money will include research and development into new, advanced electric vehicle technologies, helping to super-charge the uptake of zero emission vehicles in the UK, building on the £1 billion R&D commitment to the Advanced Propulsion Centre and £274 million funding for the Faraday Battery Challenge.

Further detail on how the UK will make progress towards the 2050 net zero target is expected in the National Infrastructure Strategy this autumn.
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