UK enshrines sixth Carbon Budget target recommendations in law

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The UK government has announced to adopt the Committee on Climate Change’s recommended emissions target for the mid-2030s into law, reducing emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

In line with the recommendation from the independent Climate Change Committee, the sixth Carbon Budget limits the volume of greenhouse gases emitted over a five-year period from 2033 to 2037, taking the UK more than three-quarters of the way to reaching net zero by 2050.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng commented on the announcement: “The UK is leading the world in tackling climate change and today’s announcement means our low carbon future is now in sight.

“The targets we’ve set ourselves in the sixth Carbon Budget will see us go further and faster than any other major economy to achieve a completely carbon neutral future.

“This latest target shows the world that the UK is serious about protecting the health of our planet, while also seizing the new economic opportunities it will bring and capitalising on green technologies – yet another step as we build back greener from the pandemic and we lead the world towards a cleaner, more prosperous future for this generation and those to come.”

The Carbon Budget is set to ensure Britain remains on track to end its contribution to climate change while remaining consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goal to limit global warming to well below 2°C and pursue efforts towards 1.5°C.

For the first time, this Carbon Budget will incorporate the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping emissions, which will allow for these emissions to be accounted for consistently.

The government is already working towards its commitment to reduce emissions in 2030 by at least 68% compared to 1990 levels through the UK’s latest Nationally Determined Contribution, reported to be the highest reduction target made by a major economy to date.

Today’s announcement builds on this goal to achieve a 78% reduction by 2035.

The new target will become enshrined in law by the end of June 2021, with legislation setting out the UK government’s commitments laid in Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday 21st of April).

The UK is reported to have over-achieved against its first and second Carbon Budgets and is on track to outperform the third Carbon Budget which ends in 2022.

According to the Government, this is due to significant cuts in greenhouse gases across the economy and industry, with the UK bringing emissions down 44% overall between 1990 and 2019, and two-thirds in the power sector.

The UK also continues to break records in renewable electricity generation, which has more than quadrupled since 2010 while low carbon electricity overall now gives us over 50% of our total generation.

Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, added: “Ofgem welcomes the government’s determination to accelerate the transition to net zero by adopting the Committee on Climate Change’s recommended emissions target for the mid-2030s.

“The energy sector has played a key role in the UK’s success so far in reducing emissions but no one should underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead of us.

“We look forward to further progress supported by the right policy and regulatory framework to reach the new target.

“As energy regulator we’ve already approved tens of billions of pounds of investment in our energy networks and will continue to help deliver the transformation that’s needed at the lowest cost to consumers.”

Prior to enshrining its net zero commitment in law, the UK had a target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 – through the sixth Carbon Budget announcement, the government is aiming to achieve almost the same level 15 years earlier.

The sixth Carbon Budget can be found from the Climate Change Committee website.