The threat posed by climate change, and the need to address it, is now widely accepted. The UK is showing leadership by establishing stretching and legally binding emission reduction targets for 2020 and 2050.
To meet these targets, a radical transformation of energy supply will be required. Carbon dioxide (CO2) accounts for 85% of UK greenhouse gases emissions and burning fossil fuels for more than 95% of CO2 emissions.
Improving energy efficiency is valuable and an important policy objective in its own right, but not the solution to climate change. There is little or no historical evidence to suggest that increasing energy efficiency will significantly reduce total energy consumption.
Reducing the “carbon intensity” of energy supply, the CO2 emitted per unit of energy delivered, will be the key to meeting climate change objectives. A wide range of low carbon energy technologies exists – such as renewables, advanced fuel fossil technologies and nuclear power. Each has advantages and disadvantages, some are more cost effective than others, but all will be needed to make deep cuts in CO2 emissions.