UK forecast to breach its carbon budgets

3rd February 2020

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Sergio Perez

The UK will breach its fourth and fifth carbon budgets for the period 2023-2032 under current government policies, and will also miss its 2050 target for net zero emissions.

That is according to research published today by the Green Alliance, which warned that “very little“ has been done to cut emissions from transport, housing, land use and industry over the last decade.

It also claimed that the government is only spending £16.75bn of the £42bn in annual investment needed over the next three years to tackle climate and nature emergencies, representing a gap of £25.25bn.

With the UK hosting the COP 26 climate summit in November this year, the think tank has also today launched a 'policy tracker' to judge the government's promises and spending pledges over 2020.

This policy tracker will test whether the government can stand up at the end of the year and say it is taking the necessary action and leading by example, said Green Alliance head of politics, Paul McNamee.

2020 has to be the year we see a huge step change in effective measures if legal targets are not to be missed and for the UK to kick-start a decade of transformational climate action.“

The UK's carbon budgets restrict the amount of greenhouse gas that the country can legally emit in a five-year period, with the fourth budget starting in 2023, and the fifth in 2028.

Today's research suggests that the UK will have to take action this year to cut the equivalent of at least 313 metric tons (Mt) of CO2 over the fifth carbon budget period to meet its net zero goal.

The Green Alliance recommended five “immediately implementable“ policies for 2020 to help achieve this:

• Bring forward the 2040 ban on petrol and diesel cars to 2030 (-98 MtCO2e) • Provide at least £1bn a year additional funding for an ambitious home energy efficiency programme (-96MtCO2e) • Introduce new incentives for better product design and reuse (-81MtCO2e) • Open up new routes to market for onshore wind and solar (-37MtCO2e) • Plant over 27,000 trees every year, restore peatlands and wetlands, and manage soil better (-36MtCO2e)

“The minimum the UK needs to do at home in order to be able to lead a successful climate conference is to get on track to achieving its 2050 net zero goal, said Dustin Benton, Green Alliance policy director.

We've shown it's affordable and relatively easy to get on track this year. We'll be tracking progress, and look forward to celebrating the UK acting to lower its emissions in line with its own net zero law.“

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