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5th carbon budget advice urges action to decarbonise farming and waste treatment

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has today heaped pressure on the government increase the pace of carbon abatement, particularly within the farming and waste treatment industries.  

The CCC’s fifth carbon budget, covering the period 2028-2032, is aimed at ensuring that the UK remains on course to meet the Climate Change Act’s target to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.

Addressing the need to implement food waste collection services in England, the report states:

Our Central scenario for UK abatement includes the impact of devolved policies to divert biodegradable waste streams from landfill, and then across the UK by 2025.

On decarbonising farming, the report concludes that, to meet the fifth carbon budget, there will need to be:

increased take-up of: crops and soils measures that mainly target the reduction of N2O through improved efficiency of fertiliser use (e.g. use of cover crops and improved manure management practices); livestock measures targeting animal diets, health, and breeding that reduce methane; waste and manure management, including anaerobic digestion; and improvements in the fuel efficiency of stationary machinery.

ADBA’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Morton, commented:

The government’s own advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, have made it clear that the UK needs to step up the pace to meet our carbon targets and deliver sustainable growth – and that anaerobic digestion will play an important role in crucial sectors like farming. 

Through its vital role in decarbonising electricity, heat, farming and transport, anaerobic digestion (AD) has the potential to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions alone by 4% – that’s about £1.2 billion saved in carbon abatement costs.   

Aside from the avoided fossil fuel emissions borne from generating renewable energy, anaerobic digestion also reduces emissions from rotting manure, landfilled food waste and expensive carbon-intensive manufactured fertiliser. Taken together, ADBA calculates that these savings are worth £65 per megawatt hour in carbon abatement – a substantial contribution that establishes AD as a cost-effective technology for delivering green baseload energy for bill payers.

Despite the Committee’s recent report demonstrating how low-carbon electricity is the most cost-effective way to meet the need for more generation in the 2020s, and evading the impending capacity crunch, recent amendments to the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) have stalled AD’s prospects for delivering additional baseload energy.

Charlotte continued:

DECC’s decision to remove pre-accreditation from the Feed-in Tariff scheme has killed off AD’s further growth prospects because investor confidence has been crippled by uncertainty. This is further compounded by the government’s decision to place severely restrictive FIT support through caps on industry deployment – not only will investors not know what financial return they might achieve when a plant is commissioned, but they may not receive any support at all!  

With support for renewable electricity, AD could deliver the same quantity of vital baseload energy as Hinkley Point C even before new nuclear comes online – and moreover at less cost and risk. Not only does a domestic source of baseload electricity improve energy security, but could also create 35,000 largely rural jobs while cutting billions in UK carbon abatement costs, improving food production and extracting the greatest possible value from our food waste.

The CCC’s Chief Executive, Matthew Bell, will be addressing ADBA's National Conference on 3 December and will consider how the Chancellor’s commitment to extending the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) until 2021 will help decarbonise not just our heat network, but also transport – notably heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) which are responsible for about a quarter of road emissions. 

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