Fifth carbon budget commits UK to 57% emissions reduction

Out-Law News | 01 Jul 2016 | 10:08 am | 2 min. read

The UK government will further cut carbon emissions to 57% of 1990 levels by 2032, in line with the recommendations of its climate change advisers, it has confirmed.

The fifth carbon budget, covering the period 2028 to 2032, restricts emissions to 1,725 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). The figures in the budget are set to enable the UK to meet the legally-binding carbon reduction target of 80% of 1990 levels by 2050, as set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act.

At a speech in London this week, energy secretary Amber Rudd said that last week's vote by the UK in favour of leaving the EU would not undermine the government's commitments to climate change policies and clean energy.

"Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat," she said.

An impact assessment and other supporting documents relating to the announcement have been published by the government's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), while formal plans setting out how it will strengthen its efforts to meet the carbon budgets are expected to be published before the end of the year.

Energy expert Kate Turner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, welcomed the announcement, which she said would help to restore confidence for investors in low carbon energy infrastructure following the recent referendum.

"It will be important now for the government to publish a credible plan to provide some certainty for investors, which is fundamental to ensuring that the UK continues to benefit from economic growth through the low carbon economy," she said.

"The UK has a leading role to play in tackling climate change and it is essential that this is not undermined at any point by the 'Brexit' process - indeed, this fifth carbon budget is tougher than the carbon emissions target that the UK is signed up to as part of the EU. Investment in renewable energy projects will be a critical element in the UK's ability to deliver the budget, and it will be important for the government to work closely with industry to enable energy users to decarbonise and to support the development of new power generation that meets low carbon needs as well as being cost effective and secure," she said.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which is the statutory body established by the government to provide advice on climate change matters, said that the government's commitment to its recommendations showed that the UK "remains committed to its climate targets and is open for low-carbon business".

"The government's acceptance of the fifth carbon budget places the UK in a position to take full advantage of an emerging world where low-carbon power, vehicles, buildings, industry and agriculture are in demand", it said in a statement on its website.

The UK will have to reduce carbon emissions including those from power, transport and buildings in order to match the CCC's recommendations. However, the government has rejected a recommendation that emissions from international shipping be included in the budget, despite findings by the CCC that there were "no longer any strong practical reasons which prevent their inclusion".