Photographer: David Goddard/Getty Images

U.K. Must Seek 57% Carbon Dioxide Cut by 2030, Lawmakers Say

  • Panel recommends cutting CO2 per unit of power to 100 grams
  • Britain must replace dirty power stations with cleaner energy

The U.K. government should adopt the advice of its climate-change adviser and seek to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 57 percent in the four decades through 2030, a panel of lawmakers said.

Ministers should also limit the so-called carbon intensity of Britain’s power plants to 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of electricity, down from about 450 grams now, the cross-party Energy and Climate Change Committee said in a report published Wednesday.

“Decarbonizing our power sector is, along with energy efficiency, the most cost-effective way of reducing our emissions,” said Committee Chairman Angus MacNeil. “The U.K. can’t afford any further delays when it comes to replacing dirty power stations with cleaner forms of generation. Investors need certainty and setting a decarbonization target for the electricity sector would signal the government’s commitment to phasing out fossil fuels.”

Britain is struggling to spur construction of new reactors and gas plants to replace the more heavily polluting coal plants scheduled to shut by 2025. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said in a letter to MacNeil this month that delays to Electricite de France SA’s plan to build a new nuclear-power plant in southwest England by 2025 may “put at risk our decarbonization targets.”

Carbon Budget

Rudd must decide by June 30 whether to adopt the “carbon budget” for Britain of 1.765 billion tons of emissions for the five years from 2028 through 2032 recommended in November by a different panel, the Committee on Climate Change. If she doesn’t follow its advice, she’s required by law to explain why.

Emissions may need to be cut "deeper and faster” than even the recommended budgets suggest if the world is to limit climate change since the 1800s to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), MacNeil said, referring to the lower of two temperature targets included in the Paris Agreement on climate change brokered between 195 nations in December.

“Now is the time to translate international commitments into a new set of national policies to guide cost-effective investment in energy-efficient, low-carbon transport and clean-energy technologies over the next 15 years,” said Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group, an alliance of business leaders, politicians and nonprofit organizations. “It is key to the U.K.’s future economic competitiveness that it continues to support the growth of its low-carbon economy.”

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