UK sets fifth carbon budget

30 June 2016

The UK government has set a fifth carbon budget aimed at cutting the country's carbon dioxide emissions by almost 57% by 2032 compared with 1990 levels. Legislation ultimately aims to cut the UK's emissions by 80% by 2050.

The UK's Climate Change Act of 2008 sets the ambitious 2050 target. It requires the government to set legally-binding carbon budgets, which limit the country's emissions for consecutive five-year periods. The budgets are designed to put emission reductions on an appropriate and cost-effective path to meeting the 2050 target.

The first three budgets were set in May 2009, following advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The first (for the period 2008 to 2012), set maximum net emissions at 3018 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), a 25% reduction on 1990 levels. The second budget (2013-2017) limits emission to 2782 million tCO2e (a 30% reduction), while the third budget (2018-2022) restricts emissions to 2544 million tCO2e (a 36% cut). The fourth budget (2022-2027) was set in May 2011 and limits emissions to 1950 million tCO2e (a 51% reduction).

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has now announced that the fifth carbon budget - covering the period 2028 to 2032 - has now been set.

The CCC advised on the level of the fifth carbon budget last November. It had recommended emissions in the 2028-2032 period should be limited to 1765 million tCO2e, taking into account for the first time emissions from international shipping.

However, the government concluded "it is not appropriate to include international shipping emissions given [that] negotiations through the International Maritime Organization have not yet been completed". It has therefore set the fifth budget at 1725 million tCO2e, which is 56.9% below 1990 levels.

In a statement today, the CCC said: "The committee welcomes the clear signal this sends about UK ambition to continue reducing emissions into the 2030s across the economy, including from power, transport and buildings. This is particularly important given the uncertainty following the recent vote to leave the EU. The announcement shows that the UK remains committed to its climate targets and is open for low-carbon business."

However, it added that evidence showed conditions for including emissions from international shipping in the fifth carbon budget had been met, and that it would "examine the government's reasoning".

Provisional figures for 2015 show that UK emissions are 38% below 1990 levels, the CCC noted.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News