UK faces “reality check” over climate change targets

The UK will miss government targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2010 and also goals to bolster renewable energy, according to a new report.

Leading think tank Cambridge Econometrics forecast in a report out this month the country will achieve a 12.75 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2010.

This figure comfortably meets Kyoto obligations but falls well short of the government’s 20 percent figure.

It also warns the government will miss its target of producing ten percent of electricity from renewable energy sources, such as the wind and the sun, achieving instead around five percent.

Professor Paul Ekins, senior consultant to Cambridge Econometrics and co-editor of the UK Energy and the Environment report, said: “These forecasts provide a reality check to the rhetoric on climate change that is now standard government fare.

“We consistently forecast that the government’s 20 percent carbon reduction goal by 2010 would be missed by a wide margin.

“We are now forecasting that the goals for 2020 will also not be achieved without stronger polices than have yet been put in place.”

But the analysts are more upbeat about renewable energy targets in the longer term.

They say the share of energy from renewable sources will increase to 12.5 percent by 2015 still short of the corresponding 15 percent target for that year but reach 19 percent by 2020, just below the government’s 20 percent aim.

Predictions are bleaker for carbon reductions. It is estimated emissions will be 12.8 percent below the baseline 1990 level in 2010 though even that will require a much faster fall than has yet been seen.

By 2020 emissions are expected to be 15 percent below 1990 levels – well shy of the 26 to 32 percent interim target set in the government’s draft Climate Change Bill expected before parliament in November.

Professor Ekins says forecasts show even achieving the 26 percent reduction on 1990 levels will be an “uphill struggle” unless the Energy White Paper, to tackle climate change and secure energy supplies, includes strong carbon cutting policies.

David Gibbs

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