The UK has positioned itself as a leader on climate change issues, with the passing of the Climate Change Act [i]on 26th November 26th 2008.  With the EU Climate Deal- the ‘20/20/20 package’[ii] agreement, is the UK now ahead of the pack within Europe?

The EU Climate Change Deal

The key elements of the EU deal[iii];

·         (CO2) emissions to be cut by 20% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

·         20% increase in use of renewable energy by 2020.

·         20% cut in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency by 2020.

 Committee on Climate Change Recommendations

Following its inception under the Climate Change Act, the Committee on Climate Change has recommended two sets of emissions reductions targets for 2020[iv];

·         Intended budgets- requiring emissions reductions of 42% in 2020 relative to 1990 levels. This translates to required emissions reductions of 175 MtCO2e in 2020.

·         Interim budgets requiring emissions reductions of 34% in 2020 relative to 1990 levels. This translates to required emissions reductions of 110 MtCO2e in 2020.

Is the UK more progressive?

If the UK government adopts the CCC proposals then UK emissions reductions targets will be more ambitious than the EU-wide deal, both in terms of percentage cuts and because UK targets cover all GHGs, not just CO2.

This is not to say that the UK is a ‘climate saint’. The UK is so far behind on it’s renewable targets, for instance, that the proposed renewable target for the UK is only 15%[v].

Nonetheless, from the perspective of finding a successful solution to the climate change challenge, the failure of the EU climate change deal to match the level of UK emissions reductions targets is surely a set-back.  

 


[i] http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/uk/legislation/index.htm

[iv] http://www.theccc.org.uk/carbon-budgets/

Source: chinadialogue @ flickr

Source: chinadialogue @ flickr

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