2010 analysis: main findings
The results of the 2010 Climate Policy Trackeranalysis show that the UK has an ambitious, legally-binding Climate Change Act which commits the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. It sets carbon budgets in 5-year increments and has independent review provisions through its Committee on Climate Change. Before there were several initiatives covering many sectors and policy areas. However, in most cases, these were not ambitious enough to achieve a transformation to a low-carbon economy by 2050. Some important areas were underdeveloped, particularly in buildings and transport. While the government elected in May 2010 has indicated climate ambitions of a similar level as the previous government, budget cuts are currently being implemented and are anticipated across all areas of the economy. These could have serious implications on the policies that are currently rated positively.
- The UK is the only EU country with a legally-binding long-term commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050. This commitment is supported by innovative carbon budgets set in 5-year increments to ensure that emissions decline from day one. There is an additional provision for the carbon budgets to be tightened through government responses to recommendations from the independent Committee on Climate Change.
- Successful introduction of new policy instruments - for example the Carbon Trust, receive resources from a climate change levy and this finances further emission reductions.
- The UK could increase its efforts to support energy efficiency of passenger cars and freight trucks. Additional (positive or negative) incentives could increase the uptake of energy efficient vehicles. For examples see France with a revenue neutral bonus malus system for new cars.
- The Government needs to ensure that efforts to retrofit the UK's housing stock are significantly scaled-up and more clearly linked to delivery of the carbon budgets. The Green Deal needs to be supported by incentives and low interest rates if it is to appeal to owners of the millions of homes most in need of improvement and to lead to reductions in energy-related carbon emissions of sufficient scale.
- The remit of the Green Investment Bank needs to be clarified in terms of how the financing it will provide will achieve the scale of investment needed to transform the UK economy towards a low-carbon pathway, and it should be empowered to borrow before 2015.
- Ensure that the electricity market reform, which will be introduced in 2012, encourages a rapid deployment of renewables and measures to support demand reduction. The aim should be to deliver a nearly carbon-free power sector by 2030, as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, with an overwhelming focus on efficiency and renewable energy sources.