Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

UK meets first carbon budget – but 2012 increase in emissions ‘worrying’

coal power plant by Emilian Robert Vicol via flickr

Official figures show that the UK hit all of its carbon targets between 2008 and 2012 – but that a “worrying” increase in emissions was registered in 2012.

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) figures show the UK emitted 2,987.1 megatonnes of equivalent CO2 during the period. Under the Climate Change Act, Britain is required to keep emissions below 3,018 megatonnes.

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey described meeting the target as an “important milestone”. However, in 2012 emissions began to rise and could be linked to the economic recovery. Davey argued it was down to rising gas prices and colder weather than usual in 2012.

He said, “The increase in emissions in 2012, compared to 2011, is of coursing worrying – but it needs to be put in the context of higher gas coasts that made coal a more attractive fuel for electricity generation, and an increase in residential gas use due to a very cold winter.”

The UK is working towards a target of cutting emissions by 80%, when compared to 1990, by 2050. Increased investment and interest in clean energy sources should help the UK meet its target of an emissions reduction of 42% by 2020.

Davey said, “Green investment has been booming in the UK, with renewable electricity generation doubling and £31 billion of renewable energy investment announced since 2010. Now with the Energy Act 2013, we can look forward not just to hitting our renewable targets for 2020, but beating them.”

A report released by the Committee on Climate Change at the end of last year concluded that the budget “remains feasible and economically sensible. It added the loosening the target couldn’t be justified.

Further reading:

UK carbon budget ‘feasible and economically sensible’

‘No legal or economic basis’ for weakening UK carbon budget

World on track to use up entire 21st century carbon budget by 2034

Friends of the Earth analyses UK’s carbon budget

Reducing carbon budgets would be ‘incredibly short-sighted’

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