Wind turbines have the potential to help Britain slash greenhouse gases by a fifth to meet goals to tackle global warming, the government’s chief climate change adviser has said.

The Committee on Climate Change said the cut of 21% on 2005 levels needed to be achieved through energy efficiency and using more renewable fuel sources such as wind.

Wind farms had significant potential to cut emissions and could supply 20% of Britain’s electricity demand by 2020, the committee said.

Setting emissions targets in its first report, the committee recommended strict carbon budgets for the next three five-year periods to cut emissions.

The emissions reductions will cost Britain less than 1% of its gross domestic product in 2020 and between 1 and 2% of GDP by 2050.

Committee chairman Adair Turner said: “It is not too late to tackle climate change, but it will be unless the world takes action soon.

“Developed countries need to lead the way with strong commitments.”

Lord Turner said the cuts could be achieved without compromising lifestyles or the economy.

Climate change secretary Ed Miliband said: “We will give the report in-depth consideration, but I am pleased to say that from 2009 carbon budgets will take their place alongside the financial budget.”

The Country Land and Business Association welcomed the targets, but warned changing farming methods in an attempt to reduce emissions did not necessarily work.

“This isn’t a simple matter of changing lightbulbs and installing loft insulation,” CLA president, Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, said.

“With present knowledge we simply do not know how to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions to the levels demanded for 2050 without reducing food production.”