The UK needs to take concrete action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions given its commitment to the Paris Agreement. The vote to leave the EU does not affect the need for action now, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says today.
In a set of new reports, the Committee recommends that the Government vigorously pursues the full package of measures the CCC has identified in order to meet existing UK climate commitments at least cost. The Committee’s analysis shows that successful action now to reduce emissions will also ensure the UK has the flexibility to go further in future.
The Paris Agreement is a significant step forward in global efforts to tackle climate change. It is more ambitious in its aims to limit climate change than the basis of the UK’s existing climate targets. However, it is not yet appropriate to set new UK targets. Existing targets are already stretching and the priority is to take action to meet them. The vote to leave the EU does not change the UK’s legal commitments to reduce its emissions by 57% by 2030 and at least 80% by 2050 (relative to 1990) under the Climate Change Act.
UK emissions are 38% below 1990 levels. This good progress has been achieved alongside GDP growth of over 60% in the same period. However, since the financial crisis, emissions reductions have come almost solely from cleaner electricity generation. Further reductions will be needed in transport, heat, industry, and agriculture to meet the 2030 carbon budget legislated by the current government, to prepare sufficiently for the 2050 target, and ultimately to reach the Paris goal of net zero emissions in the second half of the century.