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UK Requires Ambitious Policy To Transform Its Energy System

The UK requires an “ambitious policy package” if it is to transform its energy system to achieve significant reductions in its carbon emissions.

This is the conclusion from new research led by University College London scientists, who published their results as part of the Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project (DDPP) which is coordinated by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) initiated by the United Nations Secretary General.

The study analyzed possible pathways that the UK could and should take to decarbonize its energy system in an effort to limit global warming to the globally accepted 2 degrees Celsius target by 2050. As such, to meet such a target, stronger policies than are currently in place are needed to ensure strong action is taken now, at the same time as preparing for fundamental changes in how energy is generated through the long term.

The findings from the University College London (UCL) study will feed into a final DDPP report which will include research from 16 different countries that currently account for approximately 75% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. This report is scheduled for publication in September.

Key findings for the UK report include:

  • The power sector must decarbonize by 85-90% by 2030 – this step is essential for increasing low carbon electricity provision in the transport and buildings sector, which is estimated to at least double between now and 2050.
  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS), when cost-effective and available at scale, needs to play a central role in both power generation and industrial sectors.
  • The direct use of fossil fuels in end use sectors must decrease by more than 70% by 2050.

“With­out a sustained and strong policy push that increases year on year in ambition, the delivery of low carbon technologies at the necessary scale will not be achieved,” said report lead author, Mr Steve Pye, of the UCL Energy Institute.

“Carbon emissions need to halve by 2030 to 4 tCO2/capita, and reduce to less than 1 tCO2/capita by 2050. For this, the UK needs policies now that realise the full low cost energy efficiency potential in buildings, ensure the rapid deployment of low carbon generation technologies such as CCS, and prepare for the roll-out of low emissions vehicles in the transport sector and alternative, non-gas based heating systems for homes.”

The full report is available from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project website.

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