CCC reiterates need for new energy policies following COP21 Paris agreement

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has written to energy secretary Amber Rudd to reiterate the need for new plans and policies following December’s climate agreement in Paris.

In a letter signed by the CCC board, the advisory body has said that while the aims established at COP21 are “more ambitious than the basis of the UK’s statutory target for 2050”, there is no revision necessary of the fifth carbon budget.

The letter does however heap more importance onto the recommended measures.

It states that the fifth carbon budget represents the “minimum level of UK ambition necessary” to meet its targets and that new plans and policies would be required within this parliament.

Central to this is an extension of the Levy Control Framework beyond 2020 and the continual award of contracts to low carbon generators. While the Department of Energy and Climate Change is on record as saying that the LCF will continue, there is some confusion over which technologies will be supported.

The Conservative party has fulfilled a manifesto promise to end support for onshore wind and solar looks to have been excluded from future Contracts for Difference rounds, Rudd now almost exclusively referring to them as ‘offshore wind auctions’.

The government has also pulled the rug from under carbon capture and storage’s feet, electing to withdraw £1 billion worth of funding from the technology before a competitive project could conclude.

The fifth carbon budget, published last November and due to be legislated for later this year, sets out expected deployment of large-scale solar until 2030. It forecasts around 1GW of solar to be deployed each year throughout the 2020s but also includes scope for multiple gigawatts to be deployed should the government support it.

The Committee’s max scenario states that UK solar capacity could surge to as much as 40GW by 2030 resulting in significant intermittency costs of around £25/MWh.

Extra solar deployment could in theory make up for at least some of the shortfall in carbon reduction caused by failing CCS deployment. “Should efforts to reduce or limit emissions be less successful in one area, more effort will be required elsewhere. For example, if CCS were to be unavailable, it might be necessary to find additional emissions reductions of around 35 MtCO2e in 2050 from the rest of the economy,” the budget states.

This is reflected in the need to reduce the carbon intensity of power generation to around 100g/kWh by 2050. In order to achieve this, the CCC has recommended that 75% of the UK’s energy supply is derived from a mix of renewables, nuclear and CCS. With no or minimal CCS deployment, the other two would have to produce more.

However Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett has labelled the Committee's advice "desperately disappointing".

“Last month the international community agreed to ‘pursue efforts’ to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C – the Committee on Climate Change should have provided comprehensive advice and guidance on what measures the UK needs to take to help achieve this.

“The positivity and back slapping of Paris will fade very soon, unless our official advisory and regulatory bodies realise what governments signed up to in December - and work out what it means for action back home," he said.

 

This story has been amended from its original version to include comment from Friends of the Earth.