3 May 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Sector responds to Climate Committee report

Companies from across the resources and waste management industry have reacted to the report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which outlined how the UK can reach ‘net-zero emissions’ by 2050.

The CCC released its report yesterday (May 02) which set out how it wants a variety of sectors to take action, with the stand-out measure for the waste industry calling for a ban on bio-degradable waste to landfill by 2025, as well as other measures around food waste (see letsrecycle.com story).

Commenting on the report, David Palmer-Jones, CEO of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, explained that the “simple reality” is that we need to move towards a “culture of recycling”.

The sector has generally welcomed plans to tackle global warming

“Bold changes are needed, while industry, consumers and local authorities must work together across the whole value chain, if we are collectively to tackle climate change and meet these ambitious new net-zero emissions targets,” Mr Palmer-Jones said.

He added: “To reduce carbon emissions there is no escaping the simple reality that we must move from a throw-away to a re-use and recycle culture of consumption. We in the UK have made giant strides in recycling. But we need another giant leap forward. Government has set out radical plans to usher in extended producer responsibility schemes for packaging and products – we cannot water down these aims if we are to preserve our finite reserves of natural capital for future generations and help meet the ambition of the Committee on Climate Change.”

‘Critical’

‘Net-zero emissions’ relates to balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or simply eliminating carbon emissions altogether.

Other measures in the report touched about the need for a switch to electric vehicles by 2030 and urging consumers to buy and consume 20% less meat.

Richard Kirkman, chief technology and innovation officer at Veolia, said the UK has the tools at hand to meet the task at hand to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Carbon neutrality is not a pipe dream, as a nation we have the tools to achieve this today. We all know that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is absolutely critical to help control the potentially devastating effects of climate change,” Mr Kirkman explained.

He added: “If we as a nation are to make sustainable choices, it is vital we calculate the true cost of carbon on our planet. To achieve the changes a carbon tax at £30 or £40 per tonne of carbon generated could provide the much needed investment in carbon saving technologies.

“We can support the 21st century lives we are all accustomed to but we need to deliver things like energy, materials, water and transport in a carbon friendly way. Currently we’re only scratching the surface and need to innovate more to curb carbon.”

The 275 page report received widespread media interest and focused on the steps it wants the government to take in order to reduce emissions.

It was released by the committee, which is headed by former environment secretary John Gummer, introduced the landfill tax during his tenure between 1993- 97.

Organics

Responding to the publication of the report, Charlotte Morton, the chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), said AD plants can play an important role in this.

“By converting organic wastes and crops into renewable heat and power, clean transport fuel, and soil-restoring natural fertiliser, AD has already reduced the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 1% and has the potential to reduce them by as much as 5% if the industry meets its full potential,” She explained.

Ms Morton added: “Crucially, AD reduces emissions from hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as heat, transport, and agriculture, as well as from the power sector and from waste.

“As a technology-ready solution that can tackle climate change right across the economy, it’s vital that government recognises and rewards the many benefits of AD so it can make the maximum contribution to decarbonisation at speed and scale.

“We therefore also support the CCC’s call for a new regulatory and support framework for low-carbon heating (where biomethane from AD can make an important contribution) to address the current million-pound funding gap.”

Caroline Russell AM, chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, used the release of the report to highlight that her committee had called for London to be Carbon neutral 20 years earlier.

“The London Assembly has called for London to be carbon neutral by 2030, two decades earlier than the CCC’s recommendation. This tougher target reflects the severity of the crisis and focuses minds on the far-reaching measures that this climate emergency demands.”

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