The Paris Agreement was signed for the UK by his excellency Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, on 22nd April 2016 and ratified for the UK by Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary, on 17th Nov 2016.
UK pledges within EU pledges
Currently (March 2019), the UK’s Paris pledge was still the combined EU Intended Nationally Determined Contribution submitted by Latvia in April 2015. It refers to the 2˚C target, now understood to be too dangerous.
This EU INDC pledges a “binding target of an at least 40% domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 to be fulfilled jointly”. Although some EU Countries have submitted their own NDCs now, the UK has not, even though it is on the brink of leaving the EU.
The EU INDC covers all greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol (for Ozone) and excluding Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) which were to be included in the greenhouse gas mitigation framework before 2020:
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
- Methane (CH4)
- Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
- Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
- Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)
Policy on how to include Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) into the 2030 greenhouse gas mitigation framework will be established as soon as technical conditions allow and in any case before 2020.
Since the EU submitted the INDC that covered the UK it revised its framework in 2018 with new Key EU Targets for 2030.
- At least 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions(from 1990 levels)
- At least 32% share for renewable energy
- At least 32.5% improvement in energy efficiency
Note that these exclude emissions and removals from land use, emission and removals from land use change and forestry (LULUCF).
They include emissions for Aviation, Power and Industry to be delivered via the European Trading Scheme (ETS).
They include the remaining emissions allocated across member States in the ‘Effort-Sharing Decision’ with targets up to 2020. (Annual Emission Allocations per EU country ).
The EU supports the member Countries in their reductions by Financial support and Regulations, eg:
- At least 20% of the EU’s budget for 2014 to 2020 – as much as €180 billion – should be spent on protecting the climate. This is on top of funding from individual EU countries.
- The EU finances low-carbon energy demonstration projects from the sale of emission certificates.
- The EU’s emissions trading system is the key tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industry at the lowest cost.
- EU countries are required to support renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass to reach the green energy targets.
- EU countries have to reduce the energy use of their buildings and industries are required to improve the energy efficiency of a wide array of equipment and household appliances.
- Car manufacturers have to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars and vans.
Adaptation to Climate Breakdown
Additionally the European Commission has adopted an EU Adaptation Strategy and wants all its Member States to adopt national plans by 2017 to cope with the inevitable impacts of climate breakdown.
UK Climate Change legislation
The UK manages its emissions reductions through the Climate Change Act 2008 which: “commits the UK to reducing emissions by at least 80% in 2050 from 1990 levels“.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is the independent, statutory body set up to advise the UK Government on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change. The CCC proposes ‘Carbon Budgets’, which get approved by Parliament, and then need policies and legislation to deliver the reductions.
The Government published its Clean Growth Strategy in Oct 2017, but the CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The Clean Growth Strategy is ambitious in its aims to build a thriving low-carbon Britain but ambitions alone are not enough. As it stands, the Strategy does not deliver enough action to meet the UK’s emissions targets in the 2020s and 2030s.
The CCC does not believe that the UK is on course to meet the legally binding Budgets “We identify a gap of around 100 MtCO2e (47% of the required emissions reduction) between Government plans and the path required to meet the recommended fifth carbon budget in 2030”
This Fifth Carbon Budget stresses that the budget requires important contributions from:
- electric vehicles (making up the majority of new car and van purchases in 2030),
- low-carbon heat (providing heat supply for around one in seven homes and over half of business demand),
- solid wall insulation (in around a quarter of suitable homes) and
- around a 15% reduction in agriculture emissions,
- alongside more conventional energy efficiency improvements.
Impact in the UK of Climate Change caused by global warming
The CCC uses The Met Office’s UK Climate Prediction 2018 report to provide an assessment of what the UK will experience from the changing climate: rising sea levels; increased temperatures (higher in the summer than the winter); and changing patterns of rainfall. This is summarised in Michael Gove’s speech at its launch.
So no. The UK is not on track to meet its own targets, and these targets are not on track to contribute the UK share of global targets to keep to 1.5˚C.