UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


ISR Director contributes to Zero Carbon Commission final report

23 September 2020

Professor Paul Ekins, Institute Director and Professor of Resources and Environment Policy, was a Commissioner for the Zero Carbon Commission which published ‘How Carbon Pricing Can Help Britain Achieve Net Zero By 2050’ on 21 September.

London cityscape with green leaf overlay

The Zero Carbon Commission was formed in February 2020 to review the UK emissions pricing landscape and explore how it might be re-designed to be consistent with the UK’s legislated ‘net zero’ target. The report contains sector-specific proposals, public opinion, endorsements and several recommendations on how stronger carbon pricing can facilitate the UK’s transition to net zero and drive a green recovery from COVID-19. The recommendations include:

  • The government announcing a clear carbon price trajectory reaching a minimum of £75/tCO2e by 2030 (except for surface transport, where the price is already implicitly higher than this level through fuel duty)
  • A sectorally differentiated approach towards:
    How carbon charging is introduced in each sector before 2030;
    The complementary policies required, including internationally;
    The possible use of the revenue.
  • Applying a carbon charge to sectors not covered by the UK Emissions Trading System (ETS), such as heating and agriculture.
  • Applying a more substantial floor price to manage the uncertainty caused by ETS fluctuations.
  • Strengthening the ETS cap to align with the UK’s net zero target, and the 6th Carbon Budget.
  • Create a ‘high ambition club’ of countries determined to reach net zero.

Prof Paul Ekins was one of seven Commissioners, who combined experience across politics, industry, business and environmental science to deliver the report. The model policy in the report is informed by a combination of written evidence, in-depth research, in-person consultation and evidence sessions, which were held with non-profit, economic, industry, consumer and academic stakeholders.

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