UK policies ‘a long way off track’ to meet carbon targets

Government policies are failing to reduce emissions fast enough to meet the fifth carbon budget and the 2050 net zero emissions target, according to a new analysis.

Photograph: Pixabay Photograph: Pixabay

 Policies in place at the start of this government left an emissions gap of 985 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) over the fifth carbon budget period (2028-32) and policies announced since will only reduce emissions by 24%, leaving 746MtCO2e, according to the Green Alliance’s net zero policy tracker, published today. 

The calculation includes emissions from international aviation and shipping, in line with the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation that they be included in the carbon budgets.

However, Green Alliance says that if policies that are currently being consulted on are brought forward, total emissions savings could bridge 35% of the 2028-32  gap. Nonetheless, this would leave the UK “still well short of where it needs to be”, says the group.

It has been reported that the Treasury is concerned about the cost of meeting the net zero target, and a group of backbench Tory MPs has assembled to challenge the costs, but the Green Alliance says that, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, an “‘early action’ scenario to the cost of the net zero transition between 2020 and 2050 could be as little as 0.4% of GDP annually”. The costs increase significantly with each delay, it adds.

A BEIS spokesperson said the UK was a world leader in the fight against climate change and that the government is “absolutely committed to meeting our future climate commitments, having already cut emissions by 44% over the past three decades and are on track to outperform our current carbon budget plans which takes us to 2022”.

“We have clear plans to cut emissions further, having recently published our Energy White Paper, North Sea Transition Deal, Transport Decarbonisation Plan, Industrial Decarbonisation and Hydrogen Strategies,” the spokesperson said.

They added: “We have also secured new investments in offshore wind, electric vehicles and battery manufacturing and supply chains, and rolled out schemes to decarbonise homes and buildings. Further details will be set out in our Net Zero Strategy.”


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