Households should do their part and recycle food waste, insulate their lofts and drive more efficiently or Britain could miss its 2025 climate change targets.
This is the warning of government advisers, who have said that the country could be on course to miss its green targets unless the energy efficiency of homes and cars is improved, use of public transport is increased, food waste is reduced and people switch to renewables.
According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which monitors the government’s progress on cutting carbon, targets up to 2017 will only be comfortably met because the recession is seeing Brits use up less energy, as well as the fact that more wind farms have been built.
Is the government moving away from renewables?
It is also concerned that the coalition – which promised to be the ‘greenest government ever’ – is turning against renewables as the public have criticised wind farms, and shale gas is rising as a new source of energy.
David Kennedy, the chief executive of the CCC, commented that the government could potentially put climate change initiatives somewhat on the backburner as emissions dropped by more than a quarter below 1990 levels in 2012. He said that another target for 2017 should be achieved.
Tougher action must be taken
However, if the government is to meets its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by the year 2020, and 50% by 2025, much tougher measures must be implemented.
Mr Kennedy underlined that changes to the infrastructure of Britain, like building wind farms, introducing charging facilities for electric cars and changing waste collections, need to kick off now if they are to have any sort of effect by the target dates.
He said: “Although the first carbon budget has been comfortably achieved and the second is likely to be achieved, this is largely due to the impact of the economic downturn.
“However, there are significant risks that progress will not be sustained, particularly as regards insulation and investment in renewable power generation.”
Carbon emissions must be cut 80% by 2050
Under the Climate Change Act, the government is legally obliged to cut carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050. As the date draws closer, carbon budgets set out specific targets that should be met on the way to this goal.
However, Mr Kennedy pointed out that a number of the Tories’ flagship green measures appear to be floundering somewhat.
He warned that investors are seeing a “high degree of uncertainty”, with MPs continuing to bicker over the Energy Bill, which is currently making its way through the House of Commons.
What’s more, it is important for energy companies to know how much subsidy renewable power is to receive before they invest, he added.
The CCC also called for the government to set a target for the power sector to cut its emissions by 2030. Such a move, it said, would give investors confidence to plough their capital into low-carbon energy like renewables and nuclear.
However, householders could end up paying for such an initiative, he cautioned. The expert said it would cost bill payers £100 more by 2020 to pay for the switch to renewable energy. However, this would cut costs in the long term, as fossil fuel prices rise.