UK's long-term CO2 targets at risk

11th November 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Mitigation ,
  • Management ,
  • EMS ,
  • Corporate governance



The UK's ability to meet its carbon reduction commitments is in doubt because councils are scaling back their efforts to combat climate change and businesses are failing to plan beyond 2020.

According to environment think-tank the Green Alliance, many local authorities are scrapping their sustainability functions as a result of budget cuts, with 37% of local councils admitting climate change is not a priority for them and a further 28% confirming they are dropping broader environmental activities to focus on one area, such as reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from their own operations.

At the same time, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) warns that although more FTSE 350 companies are now actively working to reduce their emissions than were a year ago, only 15% of the 236 firms it surveyed have targets in place beyond the end of the decade.

“Business will play a crucial role in the UK government meeting its carbon budgets and so we need to see a greater take-up of long-term emissions reduction measures,” said the CDP’s chief executive Paul Simpson.

The CBI reacted to the CDP’s report by arguing that firms’ ability to plan long term is being hampered by the government’s mixed carbon message.

“It is hard to set targets beyond 2020 when there is still so much uncertainty coming from our politicians,” said Dr Matthew Brown, the CBI’s head of energy and climate change.

“We need both national and global action to ensure we have a framework within which investors can make the right decisions and businesses can plan to decarbonise.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Garrett, group head of sustainability at infrastructure company Balfour Beatty, argues that long-term targets cannot be made in isolation.

“The CDP’s proposal is helpful for companies that lack long-term targets, but we have a 50% reduction target for 2020 and putting in a target beyond that will not change our current trajectory,” he said.

“When we approach 2020, we will be in a position to set new targets. Unless a target has some substance behind it, it’s a bit of an academic exercise and is in danger of heading into box-ticking territory.”


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

EU and UK citizens fear net-zero delivery deficit

Support for net zero remains high across the UK and the EU, but the majority of citizens don't believe that major emitters and governments will reach their climate targets in time.

16th May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Taxing the extraction of fossil fuels in the world’s most advanced economies could raise $720bn (£575bn) by 2030 to support vulnerable countries facing climate damages, analysis has found.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close