Government maintains fourth carbon budget

The Government confirmed on 22 July that it would maintain the current target for the fourth carbon budget, which runs from 2023 to 2027, ending concerns that it could be watered down.  
 
The carbon budgets are a series of legally enshrined five year targets, designed to guide the UK towards it ultimate target of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions against 1990 levels by 2050. 
 
The fourth budget limits total emissions during the period to 1,950 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), effectively requiring the UK to half its emissions against 1990 levels by 2027.
 
The decision to maintain the target, announced by energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey, follows the advice of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – the statutory body established to review UK targets under the 2008 Climate Change Act – despite opposition from some politicians and industry groups.
 
Business competitiveness
 
Notably, Chancellor George Osbourne was concerned that the budget would harm UK business competitiveness with Europe and has previously argued that the UK should not aim to be an international leader in green policy.
 
However, new research, reported earlier this month by Green Intelligence, argues that UK climate policy is not adversely affecting competitiveness and can in fact increase competitiveness in the long-term. 
 
National targets for the current carbon budget, which runs to 2017, have already been tightened on the advice of the CCC, which has argued that watering down targets would undermine investor confidence and increase the costs of transitioning to a low carbon economy.
 
‘Certainty for businesses’
 
Ed Davey said: “As business groups have made clear, retaining the budget at its existing level provides certainty for businesses and investors by demonstrating government’s commitment to our long-term decarbonisation goals.”
 
“Today’s decision cements the UK’s place as a global leader in combating climate change, which will allow us to play a central role in delivering a global deal to combat climate change [at the next UN climate summit in 2015].”
 
Behind target
 
However, the CCC’s 2014 annual progress report, released earlier this month, estimates that the UK will fall far short of its fourth budget target unless existing policies and incentives are strengthened. 
 
In particular, it calls for setting a robust 2030 decarbonisation target for the energy sector and argues that delaying policies further could add an extra £100 billion to the cost of achieving the UK’s ultimate goal of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050.
 

Posted under Climate Change and What it Means to You and Environmental Regulations and Legislation on 23 July 2014