The Climate Change Committee (CCC) have produced their latest progress report, a detailed 619-page document highlighting success stories, key challenges, success stories and recommendations for urgent emission reductions across the whole economy.
In 2021, emissions rose 4% compared to 2020, which is largely down to the economy recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
To save you reading through the whole document, we have picked out our top five headlines from the report.
1. Delivery not meeting ambition
The CCC’s central message is that greater emphasis and focus must be placed on delivery. The UK has set ambitious targets, and there have been bright spots in areas such as electric vehicles and the growth of renewable electricity. However outside of these areas, necessary progress is not being made in critical sectors of the economy. Only eight of the fifty key indicators are on track.
Key policy gaps still remain on land use and agriculture, energy efficiency of buildings and full electricity decarbonisation by 2035.
2. Renewables deployment
One of the big success stories is the rapid growth of renewable power. In the UK, offshore wind has been particularly strong, with capacity increasing by another 5% in 2021. This has been a key contribution to a nearly 70% reduction in emissions from electricity generation in the last decade.
To kick on further, the CCC recommend that the government publish a long-term strategy for achieving 95% low carbon electricity by 2030, so we have everything in place to achieve full decarbonisation by 2035.
3. Electric vehicle adoption
Purchases of electric vehicles (EVs) have continued to soar, more than doubling between 2020 and 2021. The rise is already ahead of government growth projections and on track to grow further as the recently announced Zero Emissions Mandate comes in from 2024.
However, the CCC are quick to point out that not enough progress has been made on developing the charging infrastructure to support the rising demand from EVs. Their recommendation to government is to continue supporting widespread deployment of charging infrastructure, in line with delivering a minimum of 300,000 public charge points by 2030.
Good Energy subsidiary Zap-Map is the go-to tracker for public EV charging data. Their data for May 2022 showed we are just about to pass 20,000 charging locations in the UK.
4. Energy efficiency gaps
One of the biggest policy gaps remains a clear plan to improve the efficiency of the UK’s housing stock. The government have committed to significant public spending in 2019, but this has yet to materialise.
In recent policy announcements, the government have relied too heavily on technology, with much less focus on efficiency improvements and demand management across the economy. The CCC recommend that the government increase funding and accelerating plans for energy efficiency policies, particularly in fuel poor homes.
5. Actions to address the rising cost of living should be aligned with Net Zero
Since the last progress report, cost of living pressures have increased substantially, with volatile and expensive fossil fuel prices driving rising energy bills.
One of the CCC’s key recommendations is aligning Net Zero with further support to help people with their energy bills. They suggest moving historical subsidies off electricity bills into general taxation, a sustained push for both energy efficiency improvements and electrification and using the government’s planned energy advice service this summer to encourage rapid decarbonisation.