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Aim high: big carbon targets achievable

12 March 2013

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Centre for Climate Economics & Policy (CCEP) provides insights on the economics of climate change and its implications for public policy. Its remit includes the analysis of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, as well as adaptation to climate change impacts.

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The UK Government target of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 is achievable according to the Chief Executive of the UK Committee on Climate Change.

Dr David Kennedy used a public lecture at the School to talk about why and how the UK Government’s ambitious climate targets can be reached. Dr Kennedy set out the recommendations of the UK Committee on Climate Change – an independent body established under the UK Climate Change Act – which include targeting a 37 per cent reduction in emissions on 1990 levels by 2020, rising to 60 per cent by 2030.

He also discussed how decarbonising the power sector is an appropriate target, highlighting the potential role that shale gas can play in achieving that aim. Dr Kennedy added that while this strategy will likely lead to electricity price increases in the short term, there is scope for managing the negative impacts on consumers.

“There is no doubt that moving to a low-carbon economy will add a small cost to people’s lives, but their quality of life will be unchanged,” he said.

“Additionally, there are enormous benefits to be had from making the transition, including more fuel-efficient cars, new jobs in a green economy, more energy-efficient homes and offices and clean power generation. It all adds up to a cost worth paying to secure a brighter future.”

Dr Kennedy’s talk on the UK experience of moving to a low carbon economy potentially provides important lessons for Australia ahead of the Climate Change Authority’s draft ‘caps and targets’ review in October. The Targets Review will recommend a target for reductions in emissions for Australia in 2020, and a proposed pathway to get to that target.

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