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.
— Trewin Restorick (@TrewinR) June 30, 2016
- National political turmoil does not cancel out international climate obligations. Faced with the global climate crisis, huge momentum for action, and the rise of ever cheaper clean energy technologies, climate action is now unstoppable and the UK and the EU have strong incentives to decarbonise their economies. The UK has reaffirmed it’s staying on track to deliver 80 per cent emission cuts by 2050, and the EU remains committed to the promises it made under the Paris Agreement. With all countries signing on to December’s agreement, and pledging their support for a zero carbon future, there is no turning back.
- Actions to address climate change will deliver much-needed certainty and stability in the volatile times ahead. The Brexit vote has brought economic and political uncertainty that will shape the UK for years to come. As the UK’s clean energy transition is thrown into doubt, climate action could offer a “track of stability and continuity” amidst huge volatility, and keep investment following. Today’s announcement on the UK’s next carbon target will be a first step to assuring investors that it has not turned its back on it climate goals, while next week’s Petersberg Dialogue could offer European leaders a chance to also reaffirm their commitment to action.
- Climate change will not wait for politics to catch back up. May was the 13th consecutive month of record high temperatures, as 2016 hurtles towards the hottest year ever. From storms and floods in Australia to the US and Europe, Sri Lanka to Bangladesh, heatwaves in India and record forest fires in Canada and Indonesia, the impacts of this warming trend are increasingly apparent. While Brexit throws UK politics in doubt, and threatens to delay the EU’s ratification of the Paris Agreement governments can address the worsening climate impacts and show leadership by stepping up to recommit climate leadership.
- UK sets ambitious new 2030s carbon target (Guardian)
- Climate change: UK to set new emissions target (BBC)
- U.K. Said to Prepare to Adopt Carbon Pollution Target This Week (Bloomberg)
- Siemens freezes new UK wind power investment following Brexit vote (Guardian)
- Leave vote makes UK’s transition to clean energy harder, say experts (Guardian)
- EU climate plans stall as Brexit talks take over (Climate Home)
- Cameron urged to ratify climate deal before quitting as PM (BBC)
- Figueres: Action on climate change ‘unstoppable’, despite Brexit (BusinessGreen)
Tools and Resources
- Weblink: Carbon Budgets (DECC)
- Press Release: UK approves world leading carbon emissions reduction target (E3G)
- Press Release: Government adoption of climate target welcomed (Friends of the Earth)
- Briefing: Brexit and the Paris Agreement (E3G)
- Briefing: Brexit and the EU leaders: Keep calm and carry on with Europe (E3G)
- Blog: Brexit: 94 unanswered questions for climate and energy policy (Carbon Brief)
- Blog: The good news: Brexit will enable a fresh start on climate and energy (Energy Post)
- Blog: Keeping climate policy alive after Brexit (WWF)
- Blog: What Brexit teaches us about climate change communications (Climate Outreach)
- Report: European Perceptions of Climate Change – profiles for France, Germany, Norway and the UK (Climate Outreach)
- “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
- Brexit: No excuse to ‘go back to year zero’ on climate
- Brexit costs to be counted in health & climate impacts
- Brexit: What does it mean for climate and energy?
- RT @AlistairWhitby Good news: UK sets ambitious new 2030s #carbon target http://gu.com/p/4n8ta/stw But need a plan to deliver this!
- RT @wwf_uk UK Government has just approved a new, ambitious carbon pollution target https://t.co/PPiUrGKYQz #CarbonBudget via @guardian