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MPs call for slashed carbon emissions in power sector

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The Government should set a target to slash the power sector’s carbon emissions by 2030, MPs have urged.

Ministers should also accept the advice of their climate advisers to sign up to greenhouse gas reductions of 57% across the economy by the end of the next decade, the Energy and Climate Change Committee said.

Setting a target to reduce emissions from the power sector by 2030 would give investors certainty to invest in low-carbon electricity, a report by the MPs said.

They urged the Government to set the goal to reduce carbon dioxide output to 100g per kilowatt hour of power (g/kWh) – compared to 450g/kWh now and an expected 200-250g/kWh in 2020 – a move ministers have so far resisted.

The MPs also called on the Government to accept the recommendation by its advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to adopt a 57% cut in emissions for the fifth five-year “carbon budget” which runs from 2028 to 2032.

The cuts are necessary to meet the UK’s long-term legally binding climate targets and the Paris Agreement on tackling global warming, the world’s first comprehensive climate accord agreed in the French capital in December, they said.

With the international deal agreeing to pursue efforts to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels to limit the impacts of climate change, even faster and deeper emissions cuts may be needed, the MPs said.

The UK is set to meet its first three carbon budgets for emissions reductions, but is not on track on its fourth budget for the mid-2020s.

The Government has to set the level for the fifth carbon budget by the end of June as part of efforts to meet the long-term goal of 80% greenhouse gas cuts by 2050.

Committee chairman Angus MacNeil said: “We can see no basis for downgrading the UK’s ambition to reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

“Indeed, to meet targets agreed at the Paris climate talks to keep temperature rises below 1.5C, we may in the future need to cut emissions deeper and faster.

“Meeting our Climate Change Act targets and commitments made in Paris will require action across the board, but decarbonising our power sector is – along with energy efficiency – the most cost-effective way of reducing our emissions.

“It will also be vital in reducing emissions from the heat sector and from transport, as we electrify our rail network and road vehicles.”

He warned the UK could not afford any further delays in replacing dirty power stations with cleaner generation.

“Investors need certainty and setting a decarbonisation target for the electricity sector would signal the Government’s commitment to phasing out fossil fuels.”

The CCC recommended the 57% cut for 2030 in advice to the Government just days before countries gathered at United Nations talks in Paris to hammer out the new international climate accord.

Delivering the cuts cost-effectively would involve cutting emissions from homes, more electric vehicles and changing the UK’s electricity sector to largely low-carbon generation such as nuclear and renewables.

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