Ten Years of the Climate Change Act – many happy returns?

Ten years ago this week the 2008 Climate Change Act became law. This landmark piece of legislation set binding targets for reducing emissions and created the Committee on Climate Change to monitor progress.

The legislation was the culmination of many years of campaigning by activists. However, in many ways the real work began only after its passage – the work of decarbonising the UK economy.

The Climate Change Act at 10: policy-driven progress?

So what is the record of the last ten years? In many respects, substantial progress has been made. The power sector is the clearest success story. When the Act became law, only five per cent of generation was renewable[1]. Today it stands at 30 per cent.[2] This has driven a substantial reduction in carbon reductions - down over a fifth in total.[3]

However, there are significant differences between sectors. Emissions from the power sector are 58 per cent lower than they were in 2008, but only four per cent lower in transport. [4]

Why the difference? Government action accounts for much of it. Successive legislation prioritized policies to incentivize renewable energy sources and investors responded. This was not mirrored in the transport sector. In short, Government took steps to create the conditions to drive increased supply of renewables, rather than focus on stimulating demand for low carbon transport.

This supply-side approach shaped the communications challenge for new technologies and market entrants to the low carbon economy over the past decade. Making the case direct to policymakers for particular technologies has been central to business’ success or failure, with messaging designed to suit the goals of policymakers.

The communications challenge of the next 10 years

To drive a rapid increase in decarbonisation over the next 10 years and meet UK emissions reductions targets will require more than just new policies and investment from Government – consumer behaviour change will be vital.

Surveys consistently find that the reality of climate change and need for action are accepted by a majority of the public. However, this has not translated into action to change behaviours. For example, only 38 per cent of the public have considered switching to a green energy tariff, according to an August 2018 poll.[5]

Madano advises clients across the energy sector – if you’re interested in learning more please drop us a line. You can also follow Madano on Twitter.

madano.com

Madano advises clients across the energy sector – if you’re interested in learning more please drop us a line. You can also follow Madano on Twitter.

References

[1] Table 1, Special feature – Renewable energy in 2013, Department for Energy and Climate Change, available here.

[2] Calculated from Energy Trends: September 2018 data available here.

[3] Calculated from Trends in Sectoral GHG emissions data included in the 2018 Committee on Climate Change Progress Report, available here.

[4] Calculated from Trends in Sectoral GHG emissions data included in the 2018 Committee on Climate Change Progress Report, available here.

[5] Survey of 2,007 bill payers, conducted by Opinium on behalf of uSwitch.com, published on 22 August, available here.

The carbon emissions and renewables data in the infographic is taken from the same sources as cited in the article. The 74% figure is taken from data on Q21, in the Energy and Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker: Wave 25, available here.