The UK government has a big decision to make next week: whether to endorse the proposals by the Committee on Climate Change to set stringent emissions reductions targets for 2030.
The so-called “fourth carbon budget” (the other three have already been made policy) sets out that the UK should cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030.
Chris Huhne (pictured on the left), the energy secretary, is broadly in favour, having put tackling climate change at the heart of his department’s agenda. But he is facing resistance from an unexpected source: his Lib Dem cabinet colleague Vince Cable (on the right).
As the UK government prepares to announce its proposed “radical” reforms to the energy market, it is worth recapping on some advice meted out by the Committee on Climate Change a few days ago.
The Committee on Climate Change has calculated that, over the period from 2023 to 2027, the UK must reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to about 390m tonnes a year, compared to annual emissions of about 570m tonnes at present.
In order to achieve this the UK will need to generate low-carbon energy – from renewables, nuclear reactors and coal and gas-fired power stations equipped with carbon capture and storage technology – equivalent to the output of about 25 large-scale fossil fuel power stations.