Science & Environment

UK given carbon emissions warning

loft insulation being installed
Image caption Fewer British homeowners seem to be motivated to go green, the report suggests

The UK is not on track to hit its climate change targets through the 2020s, government advisers have warned.

The Committee on Climate Change said carbon emissions rose in 2012 by 3.5%.

After the figures were adjusted for the cold weather and a greater use of coal to make electricity, emissions fell - but by 1% compared with the 3% target.

The report also warned the Green Deal scheme, designed to incentivise people to insulate their homes, appeared to have had the opposite effect.

There has been a huge drop in people installing roof and cavity wall insulation since the previous insulation scheme was replaced by the Green Deal last year, it said.

"We haven't got the full figures yet for uptake of the Green Deal, but this does potentially look very worrying" said the committee's chief executive David Kennedy.

"We advise the government to put in very firm incentives for people to insulate their homes through, for instance, stamp duty or council tax", he said.

The statistics on Green Deal uptake are due to be released on Thursday.

Under the scheme, people can install new green technology into a property with no up-front costs and pay back the costs through their energy bill over time.

New boilers

A survey for the government on Tuesday suggested that 48% of people having their homes surveyed for the scheme said they would get energy saving measures installed.

But the overall numbers of applicants is thought to be low, and critics say if under half of people surveyed are going ahead with the full scheme, something is badly wrong.

Mr Kennedy told BBC News that the focus of the Green Deal appeared to have switched from insulating homes to buying new boilers.

"We don't need a scheme to persuade people to buy new boilers - they do that anyway" , he said.

The committee noted that 2012 had been a record year for adding wind power to the grid.

But it warned that uncertainty over the government's energy plans and anti-wind power rhetoric from ministers had recently deterred investors in clean energy.

Without further effort, it said, the government would fail to meet the targets in its carbon budgets after 2017, laid down to hold the UK to its legally binding 2050 target to reduce emissions by 80%.

It said progress had been especially slow in implementing (expensive) solid wall insulation and low-carbon heat pumps.

Firms have also been reluctant to invest in improving energy efficiency.

"The situation won't improve unless firms and individuals can see a clear direction, beyond 2020, towards de-carbonizing the economy", Mr Kennedy said.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

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