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The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has issued a set of reports, including reports on UK climate action following the Paris Agreement and implications of Brexit on UK climate policy. We examine the findings and recommendations.
A set of reports from the CCC emphasise that the Paris Agreement marks a significant positive step in global action to tackle climate change, and looks at how targets should be met. The implications of leaving the EU for the UK’s emissions reduction efforts are also considered, along with how the government aims to fulfil its intention to initially convert existing EU laws into UK legislation when the UK leaves the EU.
The message conveyed by the CCC reports is that the UK is already over-stretched and behind schedule in respect of its emissions targets. The CCC emphasises the importance of the UK achieving net zero emissions before 2100 and believes the UK can reach
this target at the same time as the rest of the world, but that the current focus should be on meeting domestic targets, which would still provide a significant contribution to global efforts on tackling climate change, before looking towards compliance
with the Paris Agreement.
The UK emissions target, set in 2008 by the Climate Change Act 2008, is to reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050, relative to 1990 levels, consistent with keeping the global average temperature rise to as little as possible above 2°C. The CCC takes the view that the
UK's carbon budgets are at least as challenging as the EU's commitments.
The overarching theme of the CCC report on the Implications of Brexit for UK climate policy is that the UK should not alter its emissions target and should implement new policy to ensure progress is not impeded by the UK's departure from the EU. The CCC recommends the UK take advantage of Brexit by implementing policies which improve on
EU-level approaches. The key messages conveyed by the CCC are:
The Paris Agreement, which was drafted in December 2015 and will enter into force by the end of 2016, sets a target of reducing the global average temperature increase to below 2°C and working towards a limit of 1.5°C, by setting a further target
for net zero global emissions in the second half of this century. The CCC report on UK climate action following the Paris Agreement examines the emissions targets set by the Paris Agreement and the UK's climate change policy and explores the feasibility of the UK incorporating and achieving a net zero emissions
target, in line with the Paris Agreement.
The report notes that:
In 2015, the UK emitted 500 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. To achieve net zero domestic emissions, the UK would need to remove 100 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, which the CCC considers to be 'very stretching', considering
the capabilities of existing removal technologies and the current emission levels in hard-to-treat sectors. To achieve a reduction of 80% in line with its own target, UK's emissions would need to be 160 million tonnes or less per year by 2050 and
this will require significant action.
The CCC noted the following challenges posed by the Paris Agreement emissions targets:
The CCC considers that whilst the current UK targets are relatively ambitious, they are not aimed at achieving a temperature increase as low as that in the Paris Agreement and do not extend as far into the future. The CCC does not consider the targets
set by the Paris Agreement are unachievable in the sense of reaching net zero emissions, but considers it will be very challenging for the targets to be reached in the time frame set out by the Paris Agreement.
In the short term, the CCC believes that the UK's existing targets, if met, would serve as a meaningful contribution to global climate action and once domestic targets are met, the climate change policy can be recalibrated for net zero emissions, consistent
with the Paris Agreement's incremental progress approach. In other words, the UK should focus on meeting the existing 80% target, which may result in a better outcome of a 90% reduction if there is a full and successful roll-out of all the options
identified in the CCC's scenarios to 2050.
The report sets out the following recommendations for near-term action:
In the long term, if all measures deliver in full and emissions are reduced further, such that they support the aim of the Paris Agreement, the CCC recommends the UK move forward with efforts to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. The CCC
notes that the UK can always revisit the target and will have the opportunity to do so in:
The CCC will monitor the UK's progress towards carbon budgets and deliver its next report in June 2017.
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