United Kingdom Strategies

United Kingdom: (1) If the UK pulls out of the EU, it should establish the goal of a 90% reduction in emissions by 2050; (2) Reverse cuts in subsidies to the solar industry; (3) Halt all plans to begin fracking, as well as decease the increasing reliance on gas as a substitute for coal; (4) Continue and increase the amount of support for electric cars.

Regarding the INDC’s that form part of the Paris Agreement, the UK is in a quite unique position of having an uncertain future with regards to what its’ commitments will consist of. This is due to, currently, all member states of the European Union being subsumed within a single ‘EU INDC’ of reducing emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The work that is required to achieve this is being distributed between states along lines of historical responsibility, capability and existing levels of development. However, in May 2019 the UK will be leaving the EU. It is currently undecided whether the UK will continue to be included within the EU’s INDC, or whether it will be removed and have to agree to a new INDC (which will in turn increase the burden that the remaining EU member states will have to shoulder, as under the current INDC the UK had the most ambitious targets). If the latter, as this INDC would technically be the UK’s second INDC, it may be subject to the Paris Agreements’ ‘ratcheting principle’ – where each subsequent INDC must be more ambitious than the last.

Due to so many uncertainties surrounding the UK’s future INDC, it would be difficult to determine whether the UK should strengthen its’ pledge. It must be noted, however, that the UK – under the 2007 UK Climate Change Act – is legally required to obtain an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, which is above the current targets in the Paris Agreement. Even so, when the Climate Change Act was being developed there was a big pushback from interest groups that the target should be raised to 90% in order to ensure an avoidance of all dangerous climate change. Thus, it would be safe to conclude that the UK’s future INDC should be of a level of ambition that at least ensures a 90% emission reduction by 2050.

Ways in which the UK could further reduce its’ emissions could include action through the following routes: reversing the cuts to the subsidies for the UK’s fledgling solar industry. These cuts, implemented overnight, resulted in dozens of companies going bust and rates of solar panel installation falling drastically. A second route would be to halt all plans to begin fracking, as well as decease the increasing reliance on gas as a substitute for coal – instead focus on building up the industries for truly renewable energy sources. A third would be continue and increase the amount of support for electric cars – increasing the amount of charging points, subsidies and incentives for members of the public to switch.