Ms Michal Nachmany, Grantham Research Institute
Samuel Fankhauser, Grantham Research Institute
Michal Nachmany, Grantham Research Institute
Fergus Green, Grantham Research Institute
This policy paper explores whether the UK is effectively moving faster on climate change than its trade partners in Europe and in the rest of the world. It aims to respond to some of the critiques moved to the UK fourth carbon budget (CCC, 2010), which has been seen as committing the UK to a unilateral, and potentially economically damaging, emissions reductions pathway (EEF, 2013).
The paper compares the UK with its competitors on three indicators of climate change policy action: the presence of national greenhouse gas emissions targets, the adoption of climate change legislation and the resulting implicit or explicit price of carbon. For the purposes of this paper, we define the UK’s ‘competitors’ as the Member States of the European Union (EU), other developed countries and major emerging (and high-emitting) countries, such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.
A key finding is that several countries, within and outside the EU, have signed up to domestic climate change targets and implemented a significant amount of climate change policies and pieces of legislation. The fourth carbon budget targets, for instance, are consistent with the recent EU proposed framework aiming to reduce average European emission by 40 per cent compared to 1990 levels. This implies that watering down the UK carbon budget could result in non-compliance with EU legislation if the EU proposal is enforced at the end of the year, as expected. Furthermore, in the OECD countries carbon prices embedded in national policies are often comparable, and in some cases higher than in the UK.
The paper concludes that the UK is a global leader on climate change policy action. However, the UK is not alone. Rather, it is part of a leading group of nations which are taking policy action on climate change. Also in this group are many of the UK’s major trading partners, including France, Germany, Norway, Korea, Mexico and China. Furthermore, there is no major economic power that has not taken steps to combat climate change – although taken together they fall short of the global commitment to stabilise climate change at no more than 2 degrees Celsius of average warming.
Committee on Climate Change (CCC), 2010. The fourth carbon budget – reducing emissions through the 2020s. [pdf] London: CCC. Available at: http://www.theccc.org.uk/reports/fourth-carbon-budget
EEF, 2013. Government must undertake hard-edged review of Committee on Climate Change evidence. Press release, 11 December 2013.
Keywords: climate change policy, climate change legislation, emission reduction targets, carbon pricingNachmany_Walking_alone-1.pdf 889.72 KB