United Kingdom

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The UK has gone much further…

The 2008 Climate Change Act established the world’s first legally binding climate change target, with the aim of reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% (from the 1990 baseline) by 2050.

In order to achieve this, the Act established a system of five-yearly carbon budgets, to serve as stepping stones on the way. These carbon budgets limit the amount of greenhouse gases the UK is allowed to emit over a specified time to ensure that regular progress is made towards this long-term target

The first four carbon budgets, leading to 2027, have been set in law. The UK is currently in the second carbon budget period (2013-17). Meeting the fourth carbon budget (2023-27) will require that emissions be reduced by 50% on 1990 levels in 2025.

Budget Carbon budget level % reduction below base year
1st Carbon budget (2008-12) 3,018 MtCO2e 23%
2nd Carbon budget (2013-17) 2,782 MtCO2e 29%
3rd Carbon budget (2018-22) 2,544 MtCO2e 35% by 2020
4th Carbon budget (2023-27) 1,950 MtCO2e 50% by 2025

The Committee published its advice to government on the fifth carbon budget in November 2015, covering the period 2028-2032. The Committee recommended that the fifth carbon budget be set at 1,765 MtCO2e, including emissions from international shipping, over the period 2028-2032. That would limit annual emissions to an average 57% below 1990 levels. There had been concern that it would not be adopted, but it was—in full.

We could and should go further still…

My blog: The case for a net zero climate change target [Jon Crooks, The Green Economy, 19 January 2016]

Latest News

Paris Agreement on climate change – Commons debate, 7 September 2016

Ratification of the Paris Agreement was discussed. Jesse Norman MP (Con) confirmed:

“The UK remains firmly committed to the Paris agreement and to its ratification as soon as possible.”

Jesse Normal MP (Con) also advised that…

“…the UK has made great progress in reducing its emissions, which had fallen by 36% by 2014 on 1990 levels.”

This means we will meet the 3rd budget, which is 35% by 2020.

However, Barry Gardiner MP pointed out that…

“the fourth carbon budget was published in 2011. Five and a half years later, we still have no Carbon Plan.”

As Mary Creagh MP (Lab) pointed out during the debate…

“…according to the Government’s own calculations, we are on track to miss our fourth carbon budget between 2023 and 2027 by 10%, yet we saw no action in the previous spending review to take us nearer to closing that gap.”

The ‘Carbon Plan’ or ‘Emissions Reduction Plan’ was previously promised by the Government by the end of 2016 and is expected to show which policy tools will be employed to meet the 4th & 5th Carbon Budgets.

Nick Hurd MP (Con) responded by saying:

“As we develop our emissions reduction plan, which is one of the Department’s top priorities, we will set a course towards deeper emission reductions in both heating and transport.”

He went on to say:

“We need to get this right, and all I was saying is that that is the priority. If we can meet all those criteria—if we can do all those things—by the end of 2016, great, but the overriding priority is to get this right, and that is what drives us.”

In other words, it might not be delivered by the end of 2016.

> Go to 3.7.2: Mitigation Strategies for further info on policy tools