Tuesday, 2 December 2008

David Kennedy at Green Monday

David Kennedy - the chief executive of the independent committee on climate change - addressed Green Monday last night. Yesterday, his committee has unveiled a new report on carbon budgets, designed to support the commitments of the new Climate Change Act. The report recommends that the UK should unilaterally aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - not just CO2 - by 34% by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). In the event of a global deal on greenhouse gas reduction being reached, this would increase to 42%.

This follows on from the release of an interim report on October 8th which called for an 80% reduction in all greenhouse gases by 2050, to include shipping and aviation.

David believes we can meet these ambitious targets, without adversely affecting quality of life, largely through better energy efficiency and energy management. In terms of power generation there are two scenarios. The first is primarily via renewables; the second through fewer renewables but increased nuclear power. Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is not an option during the 15 year timescale, because of time to market. This raises the question of whether we should continue to invest in coal fired power plants during the intervening period. The committee’s recommendation is yes, as long as the plants are designed for CCS to be retrofitted.

In order to achieve these targets, both corporate change and culture change are required. We need to change our behaviour, make more considered purchasing decisions and do things more efficiently. The anticipated cost is between 0.5 and 0.8% of GDP - around one third of the recent cost of bailing out the UK banking system. It’s not a large amount and, as the Stern review pointed out, the cost of doing nothing is much,much more.

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