Climate Change Committee announce net zero target

Climate Change Committee announce net zero target

Climate Change, energy use, and energy efficiency topics have been the focus of much of our news lately, thanks to the latest report from the Committee on Climate Change, who have addressed government environmental targets, and helped to pave out the new map to a ‘net zero economy by 2050. Their most recent report ‘Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming’, released on 2nd May, is a response to a request from the collective governments of England, Scotland, and Wales, who asked the committee to reassess the UK’s long – term emissions targets. A net – zero GHG target for 2050 will deliver on the commitment that the UK made by signing the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Report Conclusion:

The Committee concluded in their report that achieving a net zero economy is necessary, feasible and cost – effective. Necessary to respond to the now overwhelming evidence of the role of Greenhouse Gases in driving global Climate Change and meeting the UK’s signatory of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Feasible because we now have robust technologies and approaches capable of delivering net zero, the transition is now understood, and actions can be implemented with strong leadership from government. Cost effective because the cost of key technologies have now fallen to a level which permits the ‘net – zero pathway’ within the very same costs that were accepted by Parliament in 2008, when the Climate Change Act was implemented.

Whilst it is recognised that the UK were one of the first countries to implement a Climate Change Act, over a decade ago, and have been considered a world leader in mitigating global warming, our emissions constitute a relatively small contribution globally but the report emphasises that every tonne of carbon counts, wherever it is emitted. The key message being that it is time to handle climate change with the urgency it deserves, as a ‘climate emergency’.

The five key messages:

  1. The foundations are in place but delivery must progress with far greater urgency
  2. Any challenges not yet confronted must now be addressed
  3. Clear, consistent leadership is needed right across government, with delivery in partnership with business and communities
  4. Overall costs are manageable but must be fairly distributed
  5. The transition will require concerted effort and action by all

What should businesses do now?

Figures released last year showed that more than 40% of UK‘s emissions come from the built environment, including commercial buildings, with a further 27% attributed to transport. This means that the buildings we work in, and the decisions we make in choosing how to get to work, are having a considerable impact on UK emissions and energy use totals. If the UK are to work towards achieving net – zero emissions by 2050, this area of focus needs to be addressed with urgency. This year is an important year for businesses because ESOS Phase 2 is underway, and the new framework for energy and carbon reporting became effective from 1st April, giving large businesses a prime opportunity to work with expert consultants to review their energy use and emissions, and devise recommendations for improvements. Until recently, such frameworks were merely considered financial and administrative burdens to businesses but with many companies highlighting the energy and cost savings witnessed by improving energy efficiency and reduce energy use, has stimulated a surge in action. Businesses are now recognising that Climate Change will, whether directly, or indirectly, considerably affect their operations so preventative action is key to minimise disruption. They are also realising the cost savings associated with using less energy - after all, we all know that switching energy providers may save you a small amount but the cheapest energy is actually the energy we don’t use.

The 2018 figures for UK emissions were released in April, and for the first time in many years, energy use and emissions from business did not drop, it showed a plateau, meaning the work done by businesses was nowhere near sufficient. To some, the year 2050 may seem lightyears away, but it is only 30 years. Some businesses have long term plans and strategies in place, which may extend to 2050 – so is environmental sustainability an integral part of this plan? If not, consider how it could be integrated into all operations, activities and financial budgets.

Our advice:

  • If your company qualifies for ESOS Phase 2 and haven’t already started work towards the audit, look to make contact with a qualified and experienced ESOS Lead Assessor as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline of 5th December 2019, and to ensure you can plan to implement some of the energy savings recommendations into 2020/2021 financial budgets in advance. Elmhurst Energy Consultancy assisted over 50 companies with ESOS Phase 1, achieving 100% compliance rate and helping businesses to recognise substantial cost savings.
  • The new SECR framework mandates large UK companies to report on energy use and emissions in their Annual Report. We suggest tracking progress year on year to identify where the significant areas of energy use are and how they can be managed and reduced. Comparing yearly changes will also allow you to realise the savings from measures implemented in the year previous. As with ESOS, our consultants have over 25 years’ experience in energy management consultancy so can assist in your reporting and ongoing management of energy and emissions.
  • If your company is not large enough to qualify for either ESOS or SECR, it is beneficial to consider having a bespoke energy audit completed to identify trends in energy use, and highlight areas for improvement. At Elmhurst Energy Consultancy, we work with a variety of companies, both large and small, and are able to identify ways in which even the smallest, office based companies can save energy and money. We can also help to create a short and long term plan so that companies can manage their energy use in house, tracking progress and making necessary changes.

To find out more about the services we offer, please visit our website at, or call the team on 01455 883 259.

Article published 8th May 2019

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