Countryside must change to prepare for climate change, experts warn

James Marshall
November 17, 2018

The committee says there is "significant potential" to increase domestic production of sustainable biomass to meet 5 per cent to 10 per cent of United Kingdom energy demand by 2050.

The report also urges ministers to join up previous "fragmented" and "incomplete" policies governing land use, claiming that profits from food production have historically been prioritised over environmental concerns. New policies should also reflect better the value of the goods and services that land provides.

The report, Biomass In A Low Carbon Economy, warned that recycling will need to be greatly stepped up.

Chris Stark, chief executive of the CCC, defended the committee's support for biomass, the use of which has been criticised on the ground that it swallows up land that would otherwise support agriculture or nature.

The body has also called for a phase-out of large-scale biomass power plants that do not capture and store their emissions by 2030, coupled with a similar phase out for the use of biofuels in cars and vans. "There are no silver bullets and we need a number of different technologies and approaches if we are going to be able to ensure a low carbon, low cost and sustainable way of heating our homes".

According to the report, biomass could provide up to 15 percent of the U.K.'s energy by 2050, up from approximately 7 percent today.

However, the CCC argues in the report that biofuel uptake should be spurred within the carbon-heavy aviation sector in order to encourage the shift away from fossil fuels. Such fuels reportedly generate up to three times the amount of emissions of fossil fuels, when a life-cycle analysis is applied. Finally, the committee said the United Kingdom must ensure biomass is used in the most effective way, meaning the current uses of biomass will need to change. "We'll look closely at this report's policy recommendations to ensure biomass continues to cut carbon emissions, support forests and stabilize the energy system long into the future". Together with a 20% reduction in dairy products, the reduced demand would free up land to re-plant woodland and restore natural peatlands, it said.

Information released by the committee indicates the report assesses the role wood, plants and organic waste can play in the global strategy to tackle climate change.

"The potential for biofuels beyond the electricity sector is also set to grow as the United Kingdom heads towards a net-zero emissions economy".

New land use policy should promote transformational land uses and reward landowners for public goods that deliver climate mitigation and adaptation objectives.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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