UK climate watchdog recommends 54% emissions cut by 2030

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published its initial recommendations for the UK's fifth carbon budget, suggesting a 54% cut in emissions by 2030 from a 1990 baseline.

The Climate Change Act, which established a target for the UK to reduce its emissions by at least 80% by 2050, also called for five-yearly carbon budgets en route to that final target.

The level of these budgets is recommended by the CCC and then voted on in Parliament. The CCC will publish its official recommendation for the fifth carbon budget – covering 2028-2032 – in November, with today’s report marking its preliminary context assessment.

The CCC wrote: “Our findings in this report suggest that a fifth carbon budget reflecting current international circumstances and EU commitments requires, on a best estimate, a reduction in UK emissions by 2030 of around 54% on 1990 levels.”

That 54% figure assumes that the UN conference in Paris will agree a legally-binding target to limit global warming to two degrees. It also assumes that richer EU nations will have to do more than their fair share of cutting bloc-wide emissions by 40% by 2030.

The CCC warns that it might need to reassess its analysis if the Paris conference includes a ‘ratchet mechanism’ which would ramp up targets on a regular basis.

Industry reaction

Commenting on the report, the executive director of the Aldersgate Group Nick Molho said: “The upcoming Paris climate change summit won’t result in an agreement that can immediately lock-in commitments that will prevent dangerous levels of climate change. But the summit will be a success if it commits countries to initial emission cut pledges and provides for a mechanism to increase these pledges in the coming years.

“To support this strengthening international action on climate change, the UK must continue its own efforts to cut carbon emissions at home. Concretely, this requires rapidly replacing a range of policies such as the levy control framework that will expire during the term of this Parliament and which are critical to increasing innovation and attracting investments in energy efficiency and low carbon power, heat and transport infrastructure.”   

Molho also pointed out that in designing the UK’s future climate change and energy policies, the government should not lose sight of the economic opportunities presented by a transition to a low carbon economy.

He added said: “The international market for low carbon goods and services is already worth $5.5tn. We must look at climate change and energy policies not only as a tool to tackle climate change but also as a way of supporting UK businesses playing an increasing role in this growing international market.”

Brad Allen

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