The UK’s progress towards achieving its climate change goals has been stalling, according to a new report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change advisers. The report argues that new policy initiatives and strategies are needed if the UK is to meet its ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals.
As a reminder here, the UK government is currently pursuing a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (as compared to 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels).
As of right now, the UK has reduced official greenhouse gas emissions by around 42% as compared to 1990 levels, according to the new report.
While that sounds pretty impressive, the report notes that almost all of what’s been achieved so far has been in the power and waste sectors. Transport sector and building sector emissions have actually been continuing to rise in recent years.
“The good news is we have got half way. But the way we have achieved this is almost entirely focused on the power sector,” noted Matthew Bell, chief executive of the committee, in a conversation with Reuters. “We cannot extrapolate that to 2050. Power sector emissions have been lowered so much … We won’t get the remaining distance we need if other sectors don’t start contributing.”
Reuters provides more: “Earlier this week, Britain’s new climate change minister, Claire Perry, said the government would publish its Clean Growth Plan — a framework for how Britain will reduce emissions in the 2020s and 2030s — after the parliamentary summer recess. Parliament closes on July 20 and reconvenes on Sept. 5.
“The plan’s release was originally scheduled for late 2016. The delay has been criticized by investors who are looking for policy certainty. Under current policies, Britain is on track to miss its legally-binding emission reduction targets for the mid-2020s onwards, prompting calls for more action in the heat, buildings, industry, transport and agriculture sectors.
“The government also needs to present Parliament with detailed measures to address climate risks, such as risks to households and businesses from flooding, so its national adaptation program can be published early next year, the report said.”
It’ll be interesting to see what exactly the framework in the Clean Growth Plan ends up looking like. While city-level initiatives are in no way sufficient on their own, it is notable that London, and other cities as well, have seemingly begun working harder in recent times to reduce their emissions.
Even though the push is being driven mostly by the significant air pollution problems in London, the eventual imposition of a zero emissions zone in the central part of the city will probably have a pretty notable effect on transport sector emissions there. It’s an open question, though, how long we’ll have to wait for that policy to be implemented.
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