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Gummer’s Fifth Carbon Budget

December 6, 2015

By Paul Homewood 





John Gummer’s Committee on Climate Change has published its recommendations for the UK’s Fifth Carbon Budget, for 2028-32.

Under the Climate Change Act, the Committee has a duty to advise the Government on such issues. My general understanding is that the latter has adopted previous budgets without much quibble. Certainly, if the Government were to make major changes, or just ignore it, there would be a big battle politically.


For this Fifth Budget, they are proposing that GHG emissions be cut by 57% from 1990 levels, to 1765 MtCO2e. The Fourth Carbon Budget, for 2023-27 already legislates for cut of 50%.

What needs to be borne in mind, however, is that the EU’s binding target is only for a 40% cut from 1990.

In other words, Gummer proposes that the UK pursues an ever more suicidal rush to decarbonise than our competitors in Europe, never mind the rest of the world, will do. One reason is the need to keep track with the overall aim, set out in the Climate Change Act, for a cut of 80% by 2050.




As can be seen, emissions in 2014 were already 36% less than 1990, largely because of reductions before 2008. Most of this is likely to have been due to a combination of the dash for gas in the 1990’s and closure of much heavy industry over the period.

Given EU targets of a 40% cut therefore, there is no need for the UK to do much more before 2030, which entitles one to ask why the Government should pay the slightest attention to what the CCC has to say.

Below are the basic scenarios that the Committee visualises:







I have already looked at the proposals for power here.

Much of the rest appears to be wishful thinking:


1) Industry has always looked for ways to save energy, and will continue to. But the idea of CCS clusters for industry seems positively barking. Are they really suggesting that heavy industry uproots so as to be part of a CCS cluster. Has it not occurred to Gummer that most of it is on its last legs anyway?


2) Energy savings from better insulation look to be limited, and govt plans to develop deployment of heat pumps, CHP networks etc have been in utter disarray for a while now.


3) Fuel economy for cars will also continue to improve, just as it has for decades. Indeed, continued improvements may leave hybrid cars largely irrelevant.

But much of this benefit will disappear as the number of cars on the roads also increases.

As the RAC pointed out in 2013, the number of vehicles on Britain’s roads has reached yet another all-time high. In fact the number of licensed vehicles has increased in every year since World War II except 1991.

Much of this increase has been fuelled by two car families, plus of course increasing population and wealth. This can be seen from the DVLA chart below.




As for electric/hybrid cars, a target of 60% of new car sales in 2030 is pure pie in the sky. Last year, only 15869 new ULEV’s were registered, out of a total of 2.97 million new vehicles, a princely total of 0.5%. This despite the £5000 subsidy offered by Government.



And then, of course, there’s the cost of all this.

The Budget gives a central scenario cost of 0.5%, about £8bn a year. Given the current trajectory of much lower fossil fuel prices, the figure of 0.8% or £13bn looks much more likely.




However, this table does not tell the whole truth, as the previous page makes clear:





“Costs would be lower to the extent that reduced carbon emissions mean UK firms can purchase fewer emissions allowances in the EU ETS” 


This is like being asked whether you want to be burnt or scalded, and is another example of the utter dishonesty shown by Gummer in this document. Whether we opt for one of his scenarios or pay more for ETS, it is still going to cost the country much more than otherwise.

However, there is an even more significant example of Gummer’s deceit. His estimate of the costs is based on comparing low carbon technology with new gas-fired generation, which, crucially, includes a carbon floor price of £78/tonne by 2030. (See here for my previous analysis of this).

Without what is effectively a carbon tax, renewables and new nuclear would not be remotely competitive. The cost of this carbon floor price is estimated to be £6.8bn a year, thus bringing the real cost of Gummer’s plan to £14.8bn even on the central fossil fuel price assumption.


Intriguingly, the CCC say:




As there is no sign that Paris will come up with any meaningful agreement, does this mean Gummer will recommend relaxing his targets? I would not hold my breath!




Regardless of the outcome in Paris, the Government should immediately reject this Fifth Carbon Budget out of hand. Furthermore, it should also reduce the targets in the Fourth Carbon Budget to bring into line with a 40% cut in emissions from 1990 levels, as opposed to 50%.

This will bring us back into line with the rest of the EU.

Unless the rest of the world is prepared to make the same drastic cuts, we should also dismantle, or at least suspend, the Climate Change Act.

Finally, it should either wind up the CCC, or defund it. If they want to pay, say, £5000 a year for someone to write crappy reports, I’ll volunteer now. At least it would allow Mr Gummer to devote more time to his business interests, which still include Chairman of Sancroft International (consultants in corporate responsibility and environmental, social, ethical and planning issues), Director of Veolia Voda (continental water company) and Non-executive Chairman, Valpak Holdings Limited and Valpak Limited (leading provider of environmental compliance, recycling and sustainability solutions).

  1. mwhite permalink
    December 6, 2015 2:43 pm

    In Industry – We’ve lost the Aluminium Industry, we’re loosing the Steel industry, soon to loose our coal powered generating stations. We can now destroy the cement industry, the glass industry and what ever is left of the Uk ceramic industry.

    Roll on Green Britain.

  2. December 6, 2015 3:43 pm

    Cameron is the problem. The deaf leading the blind.

  3. December 6, 2015 3:48 pm

    I’m thinking that some some lemmings are faster to the cliff.
    (with my apologies to real lemmings)

    The CO2 greenhouse theory of climate is the most successful scientific theory since the Sun orbited the Earth. How sad.

  4. December 6, 2015 4:09 pm

    It looks like all they’ve done is draw a straight line to the destination point, and then read the latest target from the graph, something that school kids could do with ease. To pad it out to £10 million they’ve done what most college students do today, constructed an essay by copying and pasting guff from various green websites.

    CCS is a viable industrial process, if you want to take useful raw materials and produce a nearly useless product, liquid CO2. Like all viable industrial processes it requires the INPUT of energy.

  5. michael hart permalink
    December 6, 2015 4:33 pm

    Even if such cuts were achievable, the ‘consensus’ would still predict atmospheric CO2 continuing to rise, only more slowly. Consensus catastrophe delayed, not averted.

    As with most green schemes, they are not even internally self-consistent. They cannot achieve their stated aims with their stated solutions to their stated problems.

    Fortunately, the real world will continue photosynthesising and growing greener while we wait for this nonsense to be rinsed out of human politics.

  6. December 6, 2015 5:36 pm

    The 80% cut part of the Climate Change Act has been much discussed, but there is an almost deafening silence about why it has to be achieved by 2050. Would the world stop turning if it took to 2070 to achieve? Of course not, keep the percentages to quell Green Zombie Uprising, but adjust the date according to technological advances.

  7. Ben Vorlich permalink
    December 6, 2015 6:24 pm

    If 60% of car sales are ULEV’s and of that 15% of car sales are 100% Electric then about 500k cars per year will be electric, assuming total sales of about 4 million annually.

    Where is the power coming from to charge them all?

  8. BLACK PEARL permalink
    December 6, 2015 8:33 pm

    Wonder if this guy accidentally got into the food chain by being minced into burger meat we’d all get Mad Gummer decease

    • December 7, 2015 12:02 am

      Hopefully Heathrow 3rd runway will go ahead and she will resign in protest.

      • AndyG55 permalink
        December 7, 2015 9:16 am

        “Hopefully Heathrow 3rd runway will go ahead”

        How many runways will be needed in Paris this next couple of weeks !!!????

  9. Gerard permalink
    December 6, 2015 9:13 pm

    This is against a background in which China and India are planning 2500 more coal based power plants.

    Why is it that only Western democracies are planning economically suicidal reductions in CO2 emission, when there is NO PROOF that CO2 does anything to impact the climate – other than discredited climate models which has the CO2 temperature link built into their programs.


  10. December 7, 2015 12:00 am

    One reason why the UK is achieving reductions relative to 1990 is that they keep revising UP the 1990 level, now up 5% relative to what was estimated in 2008. I’d expect this trick to be used by other countries post-Paris.

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