UK targets emissions cut

England

The Energy & Environment Alliance has welcomed the announcement by the UK government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030.

The EEA said that the starting point for the accommodation sector was “behind the rest of the UK economy” but that “the prize of transitioning could be greater”.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson said: “We have proven we can reduce our emissions and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process. We are taking the lead with an ambitious new target to reduce our emissions by 2030, faster than any major economy … The UK is urging world leaders to bring forward their own ambitious plans to cut emissions and set net zero [carbon] targets.”

Ufi Ibrahim, CEO, the Energy & Environment Alliance, said: “Today’s announcement reveals that the UK government has engaged thoughtfully and seriously with the climate change agenda. The new target is both ambitious and achievable. Thanks to a substantial commitment to invest in the generation and distribution of renewable energy throughout the UK, Boris is not so much forcing the economy to go green as reinforcing the business case to go green. If hospitality businesses want to know how best to respond, we are here to help.”

The EEA said that the new national target would require all sectors of the economy, with the exception of aviation and shipping, to make sweeping reforms to achieve greenhouse gas emissions cuts without the use of carbon offsets. Business reforms across the UK domestic economy were therefore unavoidable and sticks must be inherent in the government’s process. That said, even before regulation, carbon taxes or other penalties are introduced, public opinion and investor sentiment are likely to push businesses into action on climate grounds.

According to research undertaken by Ignite Economics and published by the EEA in October this year, the accommodation sector is one of only three sectors in the UK economy to have seen its energy intensity (the amount of energy required per unit of economic output) increase since 1990, at a time when the overall UK economy reduced energy intensity by 53%. Benchmarked from the turn of the century to 2018, the UK accommodation sector increased its energy usage by 47%, more than any other industrial sector, while the overall economy saw energy usage decline by almost 20% over the same period. Numbers like that will inevitably draw fire from environmentalists; and the counterbalancing points, that the sector only represents ~2% of total energy usage and growth of the sector was even greater, will probably be downplayed.

Ignite Economics also estimated that the industry could save 15-20% of its energy usage, which is up to £270m/yr, or up to 660,000 tonnes/yr of CO₂.