This week, the UK government revealed dramatic plans outlined by Ed Miliband, Secretary of Environment and Climate Change, to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 34 percent cut by 2020. The Guardian’s environment editor said carbon energy standards have “never been attempted on any scale like this… by any country.” The plans, laid out in “U.K. Low Carbon Transition Plan“ also call for an 80 percent cut from 1990 levels in carbon emissions by 2050. To accomplish the reduction goals for 2020, changes will be made within every economic sector, aiming for a 15 percent carbon cut in homes by 2020; 10 percent in the workplace; 14 percent in the transportation sector; and 5 percent in agriculture and land use. In the process, 1.2 million green jobs are expected to be created.
While the 80 percent reduction measure in carbon emissions by 2050 was included in the 2008 Climate Change Act, the government hadn’t actually laid out a strategic plan until now on how to meet the targeted reductions. The white paper is expected to be enacted into law by the end of this year.
The transition to a low-carbon economy is expected to cost many billions of pounds over the next 11 years. According to the UK government, household energy bills are expected to rise just eight percent between now and 2020. Miliband argues fossil fuels are expected to become more expensive over time, as a finite amount of natural gas and oil become harder to access with increasing demand worldwide. A failure to use alternative energy would further raise domestic energy prices.
The UK government is also fearful of exhausting local natural resources, such as the oil reserves in the North Sea. The proposal pushes the UK to tap into sustainable energy resources, particularly wave and tidal energy. According to The Guardian, “up to £180m would be made available to promote wind and tidal power – this includes setting up a low-carbon economic area in the south-west to promote marine technologies and money for up to 3,000 wind turbines off the UK’s shores by 2020.”
Also, for the first time, all major UK government agencies are allotted their own carbon budget to use in their own reduction plans. In comments to The Guardian, Miliband said: “Every business and community will need to be involved. The scale of the task is enormous.” The Department of Energy and Climate Change has already pledged to reduce their own emissions by 10 percent by 2010.
According to the UK government, the following are key targets for 2020:
- 40 percent of UK’s electricity will come from low-carbon sources, such as clean coal, nuclear, and renewables
- 7 million homes will have benefited from whole house makeovers, and more than 1.5 million households will be supported to produce their own clean energy
- The average new car will emit 40 percent less carbon than at present
- 15 towns or cities will be challenged to pilot green initiatives
- Half the current amount of gas will be imported
- Implementation of a high speed rail line between London and the West Midlands
The Guardian writes on the financial investments that are part of the plan:
- “Up to £6m to start development of a “smart grid”, including a policy road map next year.
- Up to £180m would be made available to promote wind and tidal power – this includes setting up a low-carbon economic area in the south-west to promote marine technologies and money for up to 3,000 wind turbines off the UK’s shores by 2020.
- £15m to establish a Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre that will develop the next generation of nuclear power infrastructure.
- £10 million will go to improving infrastructure for charging electric vehicles.”
Read the article, analysis, an audio interview with The Guardian’s Environment editor, and an interactive feature on how the UK will meet its targets
Also, check out the full UK government report.
Image credit: The Guardian