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United Kingdom

Call for UK action to reach climate targets

UK: The UK needs to act immediately if it is to reach its targets on emission reductions, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has warned.

CCC launched the three new reports at the Houses of Parliament
CCC launched the three new reports at the Houses of Parliament

The advisory body released three reports on the next steps the UK government should take regarding heating policy, action following the Paris Agreement, and the implications of Britain leaving the European Union.

Currently, the UK is likely to miss its emissions target of reducing it by 80% by 2050, compared with 1990 levels, and the CCC said action should be taken now.

The CCC said the UK should not yet set new targets – after the government indicated it would look to reduce emissions to net zero – because "the UK already has stretching targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving them will be a positive contribution to global climate action," the report said.

"The most important contribution the government can make now to the Paris Agreement is publishing a robust plan to meet the UK carbon budgets and delivering policies in line with the plan," the report authors said.

The CCC added current policies in the UK would only contribute to cut emissions by around half the target.

It also highlighted a lack of movement on the future of UK support auctions for renewable energy projects.

Trady body RenewableUK deputy chief executive Maf Smith welcomed the report: "The CCC is right to highlight that fact that new auctions for low-carbon contracts can help drive down the cost of people's electricity bills. When it comes to putting the consumer first, onshore wind deserves a clear route to market, as it's the cheapest way to generate new power.

Industry views

"The UK government's leading role in securing the global agreement on climate change in Paris is being backed up by firm action at home. Renewables are playing a major role in our commitment to decarbonise, as well as delivering affordable, home-grown power to British homes, factories and offices," Smith said.

Jenny Hogan, director of policy at Scottish Renewables said the government needed to act quickly: "The committee's advice on the day the landmark Paris Agreement is ratified could not be clearer – the UK government must urgently get on with the job of meeting its emission reduction targets without delay.

"The provision of a route to market for our cheapest forms of low-carbon electricity generation — onshore wind and solar – is, we agree, key to meeting what the committee calls our 'already stretching' emissions goals. Excluding these technologies, as the CCC states, increases costs for consumers.

"The renewables industry is poised to work with the UK government to achieve these ambitions, enabling us not only to meet our legally-binding climate targets, and those set through the Paris Agreement, but also increase the UK jobs and investment renewable energy is already delivering".

In June, the UK government adopted a new carbon budget for 2028-2032 following recommendations from the CCC.

The budget will see carbon emissions reduced by 57% compared with 1990 levels to 1,765Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent, including international shipping.

The UK's 2008 Climate Change Act set the 80% emissions reduction target. To achieve this, the government sets out a rolling programme of the carbon budgets, each spanning a five-year period.


While many of the UK’s climate policies are enshrined domestically, the committee said some rules that derive from the EU should be preserved and strengthened following Britain's exit from the European Union (Brexit).

For cross-border policies such as the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), the UK should either remain a participant or replicate the concept domestically, it added.

Brexit also complicates the UK’s carbon budgets, particularly outside the EU ETS and single market, because emissions are accounted for on a net basis to allow for trading.

If the UK were to pull out of the EU ETS, there would need to be an accounting adjustment "to preserve the intent of the budgets", said the CCC.

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