2020 CO2 target in doubt

The UK will fail to meet its carbon dioxide emissions reduction target for 2020 according to new independent forecasts

The forecasts, prepared by Cambridge Econometrics, predict that UK CO2 emissions will amount to 136.3 million tonnes of carbon in 2020, just 15% lower than they were in 1990. The draft Climate Change Bill has set a goal of cutting emissions by between 26% and 32% by 2020.

The figures contrast with official government projections predicting that emissions will be between 20% and 26% lower in 2020.

One reason for the discrepancy is that the new forecasts do not take account of measures in the energy White Paper published in May, as they “have not as yet been followed by concrete policy measures” so the shortfall is likely to be less than anticipated.

Nevertheless a 11% hole will be hard to fill, and the measures in the energy White Paper on their own will be unlikely to bridge the whole gap.

The forecasts also suggest that the UK will miss its renewable electricity targets for 2010 and 2015 by a wide margin.

They predict that just 5% of electricity will come from renewable sources in 2010, rising to 12.5% in 2015, well short of government targets of 10% and 15% respectively. But the picture improves by 2020, when the report predicts that renewables will supply 19% of electricity – just 1% short of the government’s target for that year.

“These forecasts provide a reality check to the rhetoric on climate change that is now standard government fare,” said Professor Paul Ekins, who co-edited the report. “The government’s policies to promote a low carbon future are not yet sufficient to meet the carbon challenge set out in the energy white paper and draft climate change Bill.”

“Even achieving at least a 26% reduction on 1990 levels will be an uphill struggle unless the energy White Paper is followed by robust policy measures that promote carbon reductions.”