The UK


The Paris Agreement was initially 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, ratified for the UK by Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary, on 17th Nov 2016, with the UK pledges submitted as part of the EU pledges.

On 3rd Dec 2020 the government announced the new UK (NDC) with pledges up to 2030. The NDC aims for an “at least 68%” reduction in emissions by the end of the decade.

To find the latest NDC for the UK click here at the UN’s Registry

UK Legislation and the Committee on Climate Change

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. In June 2019, the UK Government committed to a Net Zero carbon emissions target across the economy by 2050. (Net zero means any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage.)

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.

Sixth Carbon Budget

The CCC proposes ‘Carbon Budgets’, which get approved by Parliament, and the Government then needs policies and legislation to deliver the reductions. The CCC launched the ‘Sixth Carbon Budget’ on 9th Dec 2020 for the years 2033 to 2037. If the Government takes the actions recommended by the CCC, the UK could be on track to be ‘net zero’ by 2050. If other Countries followed this path global warming could slow down, and perhaps not reach 2degC above pre-industrial levels.

The CCC’s Sixth Carbon Budget can be found here  along with Sector reports for Transport, Building, Manufacturing and Construction, Electricity Generation, Fuel Supply, Agriculture Land Use and Forestry,  Aviation, Shipping, Waste, F-Gases and Greenhouse Gas Removals.

The CCC considered 4 scenarios and recommended steering a ‘balanced pathway‘ that acknowledges these all, is ambitious yet achievable.

  • Widespread engagement – responsive and willing. The CCC relied for its understanding of UK people’s readiness to change on the UK Climate Assembly where statistically chosen citizens listened to experts and reached consensus to compile this report.
  • Innovation – more and cheaper technologies
  • Headwinds – heavier going and more infrastructure needed
  • Tailwind – optimistic take upper bounds. Necessary to get there in 2040s
  • Balanced Pathway – bottom up actions keep open other options. This balanced pathway aligns with the UK’s Net Zero target