Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

  • 17 November 2016

ECI researchers call for urgent action on UK energy during this Parliament

UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has published a Review of UK Energy Policy ahead of the Autumn Statement next week and the forthcoming Industrial Strategy and Emissions Reductions Plan. The review, which a number of ECI researchers contributed to, makes a number of evidence-based recommendations to policymakers, and calls for urgent action during this Parliament on a number of key areas.

The ECI's Professor Nick Eyre and Dr Sarah Darby were co-authors of the Electricity chapter within this review, which makes the case for a transformation of the electricity system over the next two decades, decarbonising faster than other parts of the economy to meet carbon targets cost-effectively.

"The review shows that wind and solar are the electricity supply options with the most rapidly declining costs," Professor Eyre comments, however adding the caveat that "policy uncertainty in the UK risks investment in these technologies flowing to other countries rather than the UK." Indeed, Eyre and Darby's review finds that UK energy efficiency policy has fallen badly behind much of the rest of the world in recent years.

The transport section of the same UKERC review, co-authored by Dr Christian Brand, Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor at the ECI and Transport Studies Unit, highlights the importance of integrating air quality and low carbon policy. Transport remains the sector with greatest inertia in terms of carbon emissions reduction and presents particular challenges due to the many actors involved. Across the sector, increases in demand (in particular in urban freight) have been offset by increases in efficiency, with domestic transport GHG emissions of today being roughly at the same level as in 1990. Emissions rose in 2015 after several years of modest reductions.

Christian said: "Transport policy needs to be more explicitly oriented towards creating the low-carbon transport system of the future and renewed policy focus on infrastructure investment is urgently needed." The review makes recommendations on how to build the transport system of tomorrow and how to maximise co-benefits of low carbon transport.

"We need urgent action to promote the efficient use of electricity on a level playing field with supply side options"

Professor Nick Eyre, Environmental Change Institute