Fifth Carbon Budget: UK Government sends positive message with ambitious emissions reduction plan

BREAKING: The UK Government has provided a much-needed confidence boost for the green economy by approving the Fifth Carbon Budget, taking heed of ambitious proposals from MPs to limit the annual emissions to 57% below 1990 levels by the year 2032.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) today (30 June) confirmed that the Government will endorse the Fifth Carbon Budget proposals by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for UK emissions to be 57% lower between the period of 2028 and 2032, compared with 1990 levels.

— Fifth Carbon Budget: Green business reaction —

“The Government has agreed with the CCC and proposes that the fifth budgetary period covering 2028 to 2032 should be set at 1,725 MtCO2e,” reads a statement on the Government website.

If met, the Fifth Carbon Budget would put the UK firmly on track to meet the legally-binding carbon reduction targets laid out in the UK’s Climate Change Act (2008), which sets an 80% emissions reduction target for 2050, from the same 1990 baseline.

According to the CCC, the UK is currently on track to outperform the Second and Third Carbon Budgets, but off track to meet the Fourth – which covers the period 2023-27 and requires a 50% emissions reduction from 1990 levels.

‘Crucial first step’

Ahead of today’s announcement, concerns had been raised by green groups and sustainability leaders that the Government’s Fifth Carbon Budget would be postponed or perhaps even weakened in the wake of Britain’s shock decision to leave the European Union (EU) last week.

But this acceptance of the CCC’s proposals sends a clear message to green investors that the Government remains “fully committed” to delivering a clean and affordable energy supply for Britain – as Energy Secretary Amber Rudd reiterated in a speech to businesses yesterday.

Welcoming the announcement, Friends of the Earth senior climate campaigner Simon Bullock said: “After the huge confusion following the Brexit vote, we welcome the certainty this decision gives. Investors will now know that the UK is a place where low carbon investment can flourish.

“The big challenge is to ensure stronger policies to meet this carbon budget. The Committee on Climate Change has repeatedly warned that we are not on track to meet our climate goals for the 2020s.” 

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) agrees that this is a “crucial first step in reassuring investors after the referendum campaign”.

James Court, head of policy and external affairs at the REA, said: “The fundamentals of energy have not changed post-referendum, we still need new generation that is cost effective, low carbon and secure. 

“This would be the worst time for the government to row back or U-turn on existing commitments, which would be toxic to inward investors. So this is a positive first step, but will need to be backed up by a robust energy plan by the end of the year.”

Luke Nicholls & George Ogleby

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