United Kingdom Checkup

United Kingdom—Standing Still

The Carbon Brief’s report states that in order for the UK to meet its Paris Agreement goal, plans must be drawn up immediately for greenhouse gas removal technologies while simultaneously more work needs to be done to reduce its existing emission levels.

In line with the UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act, 5-yearly ‘carbon budgets’ are drawn up to specify how the UK will reach both it’s target in the Paris Agreement, and the UK’s self-imposed target to cut emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. However, the ambition that these carbon budgets state have been found to be not ambitious enough to reach the targets specified in the Paris Agreement—a 90% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 with net zero emissions between 2050 and 2100. Though it must be noted that the Carbon Brief does state that the UK’s goals are very ambitious compared to other countries, and to what is feasible within the limited time frame.

However, there is still the question as to whether the UK is achieving the goals mandated by its own carbon budgets. The release of the government’s emission reduction plan has been delayed by a year, and projected UK emissions are far above what the carbon budgets require. The legal NGO ClientEarth even issued a report stating that the previously released government Carbon Plan in 2011 was in breach of its own act, and that it was not sufficient to meet the targets legally required.

When comparing the UK’s actual emission levels, the carbon budgets and the Paris Agreement goals, it is clear that ‘business as usual’ for the UK will not even nearly ensure the required reductions. To meet them requires immediate and large investment in emission removal technologies, and a ratcheting of ambition for future carbon plans. This must include a reversal of the decision to begin fracking, a reinstating of the subsidies for solar power, and unequivocal support for renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.

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Carbon Brief: ‘UK needs negative emissions to comply with Paris Climate deal’ October 2016. https://www.carbonbrief.org/ccc-uk-needs-negative-emissions-to-comply-with-paris-climate-deal