Climate change—emissions targets, carbon budgets and net zero
Climate change—emissions targets, carbon budgets and net zero

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Climate change—emissions targets, carbon budgets and net zero
  • Climate Change Act—2050 target
  • Carbon budgets
  • How is the UK doing?
  • CCC progress reports
  • Government's response
  • Implications of Brexit and the Paris Agreement
  • Impact of meeting carbon budgets on energy prices and bills
  • CCC independent assessment of the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy
  • Biomass
  • More...

STOP PRESS: this Practice Note is currently being updated in light of developments in November and December 2020, including the Sixth Carbon Budget and the Energy White Paper—powering the UK’s net zero future.

Climate Change Act—2050 target

The Climate Change Act 2008 (CCA 2008) established a legally binding target for the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

The CCA 2008 also established an independent advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, to advise the government and devolved administrations on climate change prevention and adaptation. In October 2020, the Committee on Climate Change rebranded as the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

The CCA 2008 originally set a target of a 60% reduction in emissions, but this was amended following scientific evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Second Assessment Report and advice from the CCC.

In December 2011, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (as it then was) published the Carbon Plan, which set out the government's plans for decarbonisation across all sectors. This updates and supersedes the 2009 Low Carbon Transition Plan. See Practice Note: The Carbon Plan [Archived].

The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019, SI 2019/1056 came into force on 27 June 2019 and amended the legally binding target set in CCA 2008, s 1 to 100% or net-zero. This means the UK has

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