An end to the use of fossil fuels needs to happen in the UK within 20 years, the government’s climate change watchdog has warned.
The independent Climate Change Committee also says the government should set a 2050 target of cutting all greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent – including those from aviation and transport, which were previously excluded.
Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, the committee chairman, said that because it is unlikely that emissions from aviation and shipping will be cut so dramatically, other sectors, particularly power generation, would have to reduce emissions by much more, with big increases in energy efficiency, wind and tide power.
“We have to almost totally decarbonise the power sector by 2030, well before 2050,” he said.
The committee says the far-reaching changes would cost about 1-2% of the value of the economy in 2050, although growth would still be strong.
Ed Miliband, the new energy and climate secretary, welcomed the report. He said: “We need to act now to avoid dangerous climate change and the action we take must be guided by experts. This is a pressing issue and we’ll respond to the recommendations swiftly. The hard work will be for us all to make emission reductions a reality over the coming decades.”
If the report is accepted in full, campaigners said the UK target would be the most ambitious legally binding commitment of any country and would give the UK a strong position in international negotiations about a new global plan.
The Climate Change Committee was set up by the climate change bill and was asked to advise government on whether to increase the target of a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050.