UK government sets out strategy to halve emissions by 2032

The UK Government on Thursday (Oct. 12) published the Clean Growth Strategy, the long-awaited blueprint for how the UK plans to achieve its target of cutting emissions by 57 percent by 2032.

The Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, committed the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 with respect to 1990 levels, setting a series of five-years caps on greenhouse gas emissions termed ‘Carbon Budgets’.

According to Ministry for Climate Change and Industry, UK exceeded the target emissions reductions of the first carbon budget (2008 to 2012) by one per cent of the budget level and it is projected to outperform against the second and third budgets covering the years 2013 to 2022 by almost five per cent and four per cent respectively.

The Clean Growth Strategy covers the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, spanning 2023-2027 and 2028-2032. The publication has been repeatedly delayed due to, among other things, the EU referendum and June’s general election, Carbon Brief reports.

Concerning the ongoing Brexit process and its potential implications for EU and UK climate policies, the government stated that “the exact nature of the UK’s future relationship with the EU and the long-term shape of [UK] involvement in areas like the EU Emissions Trading System are still to be determined”. However, UK will remain committed to its domestic binding emissions reduction targets under Climate Change Act.

The Clean Growth Strategy includes about 50 policies for decarbonizing energy production, improving energy efficiency in industry and households, accelerating the shift to low carbon transport, supporting green finance and investments in clean technologies.

According to government official release, over £2.5 billion will be invested to support low carbon innovation from 2015 to 2021.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) welcomed the masterplan, commenting that “new policies included in the strategy will begin to close the significant gap between existing policies and what is required to meet the carbon budgets”. However, the CCC pointed out the reliance on “flexibilities” envisioned as an option to reach the emission reduction targets.

“We note that the Clean Growth Strategy suggests that ‘flexibilities’ in the Climate Change Act could be used to meet the carbon budgets in place of domestic action” Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said. “This should not be the plan. The clear intention of the UK’s fourth and fifth carbon budgets is that they are delivered through domestic action to keep the UK on the lowest cost path to the 2050 target to reduce emissions by at least 80% compared to 1990 levels. That should be the goal, without the use of accounting flexibilities or reliance on international carbon credits”.

The CCC will provide a full assessment of the Clean Growth Strategy in 2018.



(Image:  Palace of Westminster. Photo credit: B. Monginoux/