CCC advises against carrying forward carbon budget 'surplus emissions'

20th February 2019


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Rita Polvora

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised the government not to role over a surplus of emissions from the UK's second carbon budget into future targets.

In a letter to energy minister Claire Perry, CCC chairman Lord Deben revealed that emissions were 14% below what was needed to meet the country's carbon budget for 2013-17.

However, this was due to accounting changes to the EU Emissions Trading System and lasting effects from the last recession – not because of government policy.

The letter warns that existing carbon budgets are already “too loose“, and that carrying forward a surplus would undermine the integrity of the Climate Change Act.

“The aim should be to meet and outperform carbon budgets through actions to reduce emissions, rather than relying on statistical revisions which can go both up and down,“ the letter states.

“The committee's unequivocal advice is that surplus emissions from the second carbon budget should not be carried forward.“

The long-term goal of the UK's carbon budgets is to achieve an 80% cut on 1990 emission levels by 2050, and the country had already achieved a 43% reduction by 2017.

But the CCC said carrying forward surplus emissions would reduce the ambition of the carbon budgets for 2018-32 and make long-term targets more difficult and expensive to meet.

It warned that doing so would also be inconsistent with the Paris Agreement and make it harder to deliver the government's Clean Growth Strategy.

The letter also highlights how the inclusion of emissions from upland peat might make it necessary to revise future carbon budgets so the required government policy is delivered.

“However, the timing and extent of any such decisions are not relevant to the decision on whether to carry forward emissions from the second to the third carbon budget,“ it continues.

“Any such changes would have to be linked to developments in scientific understanding that underpin the emissions inventory if they were to be credible.“

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