Amid Brexit turmoil, UK approves world leading emission cuts


In a move which could reduce fears over what the UK’s vote to leave the EU could mean for climate change, the government has today approved its carbon reduction target for the early 2030s. Under UK law, the government had until the end of the month to accept or reject the target, put forward by its independent climate advisors, to cut carbon emissions 57 per cent below 1990 levels by 2032. Many feared last week’s vote could see the government miss this important deadline, but today’s decision reaffirms the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change and shows that inside or outside the EU, it has a “global leadership role” to play. Meanwhile, with concerns that the UK’s departure could hold up the EU’s ratification of the Paris Agreement, diplomats will be keen not to tarnish the bloc climate reputation, and are expected to use next week’s Petersberg Dialogue to re-confirm their commitment to climate change. By doing so, they will be able to offer valuable certainty in uncertain times, and show their global neighbours that they will stand by the promises they made in Paris last December.


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  • “This decision demonstrates that despite Brexit the UK will continue to be a world leader in tackling climate change. But it will mean that the Government will have to double down on a new cost effective energy strategy which reduces reliance on imported gas. This means it must make energy efficiency an infrastructure priority to slash energy demand in UK homes by half.  This would significantly reduce energy bills and fuel poverty and could generate £8 billion in net economic returns. No other infrastructure investment can deliver so much for so many, generating jobs in every constituency across the UK.” – Tom Burke, Chairman of the UK climate and energy think tank E3G
  • “Amber Rudd has demonstrated strong leadership in leaderless times.  This unequivocal move provides much needed investor certainty and is the first step to ensuring the UK continues to benefit from the jobs and growth offered through the low carbon economy.  The plan to implement the fourth and fifth carbon budgets must now provide detail of not only the policies required, but also the finance to deliver on the UK’s ambition.” – Sepi Golzari-Munro, Head of the UK programme at E3G
  • “After the huge confusion following the Brexit vote, we welcome the certainty this decision gives. Investors will now know that the UK is a place where low carbon investment can flourish. The big challenge is to ensure stronger policies to meet this carbon budget. The Committee on Climate Change has repeatedly warned that we are not on track to meet our climate goals for the 2020s. Floods and droughts don’t care whether the UK is in the EU or not. We must get on with the urgent business of getting all the world’s economies off the coal, oil and gas which are putting all our futures at risk. Protecting our homes, communities and environment from the ever-growing dangers of climate change must be a non-negotiable part of how the UK deals with the repercussions of Brexit.” – Friends of the Earth senior climate campaigner Simon Bullock
  • “We welcome the Government’s announcement today on the fifth carbon budget. Amidst the current political turmoil, the Government is sending a very important signal by reaffirming its commitment to cutting carbon emissions through the Climate Change Act, and to staying – if only just – on the path recommended by the Committee on Climate Change to meeting its 2050 emissions reduction target. The Paris Agreement is only six months old and the need for all countries to tackle climate change becomes ever more urgent. Today has brought valuable certainty in uncertain times. However, significant challenges remain. First, the fifth carbon budget must be passed in law immediately. It is understandable in the current climate that political logistics may delay this by a day or two. However, the Act gives an unambiguous deadline for setting the budget and this cannot be allowed to slip. Secondly, in the coming months, a new, credible and coherent set of policies needs to be prepared to deliver the emissions cuts that the UK is committed to. This new carbon budget gives Government and campaigners the boost they need to start working in earnest towards that goal.” – Jonathan Church, Lawyer, Climate and Energy ClientEarth
  • “The UK’s Climate Change Act gives us, even outside the EU, a global leadership role on climate change. So it’s great that the government has ignored siren voices from the fringes, listened to the scientists, and set a new target which will help boost the green economy.” – Emma Pinchbeck, WWF-UK’s head of energy and climate change

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