The UK government is being urged to immediately announce sector specific carbon pricing that is tailored to the challenges across waste, electricity, heating, aviation, shipping, industry and agriculture.
The Zero Carbon Campaign has today (21 September) published its white paper which aims to set out how the UK Government can introduce carbon pricing across waste, electricity, heating, aviation, shipping, industry and agriculture in order to ‘get the country on track to achieving its legislated net zero target’.
The paper recommends the UK Government:
- Immediately announce sector specific carbon pricing that is tailored to the challenges of each sector. For waste, the Government should:
- Capitalise on the success of landfill tax and increase the price incrementally to reach £75/tCO2e by 2035 (a price deemed consistent with the Government’s ambition to reach net zero emissions by 2050).
- Extend the landfill tax to include emissions from waste incineration, as well as emissions from other energy from waste plants.
- Use the estimated revenue from the charge – expected to reach £27 billion by 2030 – to support innovation and investment in green technologies, including de-risking early stage deployment of carbon capture and storage in energy from waste plants.
- Introduce complementary legislation and regulation to reduce emissions from waste:
- Ban recyclable materials going to landfill or incineration by 2030, and biodegradable waste from entering landfill by 2025.
- Implement Extended Producer Responsibility mechanisms, as outlined in the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy.
- Tighten restrictions on the export of waste overseas, ensuring it only goes to jurisdictions with capacity to recycle rather than dispose of it.
The white paper has been endorsed by Lord Nicholas Stern (Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics), Benet Northcote (Former Director of Corporate Responsibility at John Lewis Partnership), Clementine Cowton (Head of Policy, Octopus Energy Group) and Ian Parry (Principal Environment Fiscal Policy Expert, International Monetary Fund).
‘Practical, fair and deliverable’
The policy recommendations have been designed to be practical, fair and deliverable, according to the Zero Carbon Campaign. It says they have been shaped around public opinion research.
It says the proposals have also sought to overcome issues of ‘carbon leakage,’ which currently prevent polluters from paying the full price for the emissions they produce.
The report has been led by the campaign’s commission, which includes John Sauven (Executive Director, Greenpeace UK), Lord Adair Turner (Former Chair, Committee on Climate Change) and Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas (CEO, Green Finance Institute).
For a long time after it was introduced, the landfill tax seemed to be very effective at diverting waste from landfill. But it’s now clear that its main achievement has been to divert waste straight into incineration
They have spent the last eight months reviewing the UK’s carbon pricing landscape and exploring through a series of independent consultation and evidence sessions how it can be redesigned in order to drive a fair and just transition towards net zero by 2050.
Commenting on the publication of the white paper, Libby Peake, Head of Resource Policy at Green Alliance, said: “For a long time after it was introduced, the landfill tax seemed to be very effective at diverting waste from landfill. But it’s now clear that its main achievement has been to divert waste straight into incineration.
“This is not compatible with a resource efficient, net zero world where waste is recycled, reused and – ideally – eliminated entirely. It’s clearly time to improve the landfill tax and revisit how the tax system can help us tackle waste.”
A higher, simpler and more broadly applied carbon price is a crucial element in the fostering of a post-Covid economic recovery that is consistent with net-zero emissions by 2050, according to to Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
He said: “The ZeroC report contains detailed, thoughtful and pragmatic advice which the Government would be well advised to heed. The drive to zero carbon will be at the core of the sustainable and inclusive growth story of the 21st century.”
The Zero Carbon Commission’s white paper sets out a comprehensive plan for addressing the UK’s net zero policy gap and provides an ambitious calling card ahead of the UN Climate Conference.
Commenting on the publication of the white paper, Hannah Dillon, Head of the Zero Carbon Campaign, said: “Under the spotlight of COP26, it has never been more important for the UK to drive global ambition on climate change, but our leadership is dependent on the strength of our domestic policy-making.
“The Zero Carbon Commission’s white paper sets out a comprehensive plan for addressing the UK’s net zero policy gap and provides an ambitious calling card ahead of the UN Climate Conference. This is urgently required if the UK wants to be viewed as a true leader in the global fight against climate change.”
The white paper follows recent reports from the Committee on Climate Change, the Institute for Government and Climate Assembly UK. All three reports urge the UK Government to ramp up its climate ambition and set out a clear strategy for achieving net zero ahead of COP26, which the UK is hosting.
In June, the Zero Carbon Campaign published its interim report which presented an overview of the Commission’s interim findings from its evidence sessions, public polling and consultations.