Greenhouse gas falls unlikelyUnited Kingdom
Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent
Current government policies are unlikely to deliver the promised reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, a new study has found.
Last year, owing to the recession, emissions fell by about a tenth, according to Cambridge Econometrics, a consultancy. However, that is unlikely to be repeated if the economy recovers.
That means there is a serious risk that emissions will rise again, the report found, unless the government steps up its efforts to encourage energy efficiency and increase the share of electricity coming from renewable sources, in order to meet its target of cutting emissions by 34 per cent by 2020.
On current policies, the UK will also “fall well short” of the European Union target of generating 15 per cent of energy from renewables by 2020.
Paul Ekins, professor at University College London and co-author of the study, said: “The Labour government ... failed to put firm policies in place to increase the likelihood of those targets being met. The new administration will need to appreciate the difference between setting targets and having firm policies in place that achieve them if it is to realise the prime minister’s stated ambition ‘to be the greenest government ever’.”
Although the targets for reducing emissions from now to 2017 were likely to be met, from a combination of the recession, the continuing increase in the use of natural gas for power generation, and other factors, beyond that current policies were inadequate to cut emissions by the amounts needed, the report said.
He said it was important not to mistake the effects of the recession and the effects of policy measures. “Our forecast shows that progress on reducing emissions could well stall after 2015 unless stronger policies are put in place,” he warned. “Carbon budgets further in the future will be increasingly difficult to meet unless the UK is put on a path of economic growth combined with falling emissions.”
Prof Ekins urged the government to strengthen policy supporting renewable electricity and transport, and to introduce a mechanism for supporting renewable sources of power for heating buildings.
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