United Kingdom Emission Reduction Challenges

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Leading Emission Reduction Challenges: (a) Problems implementing existing climate change policies

Current Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels

The UK’s level of greenhouse gases has been on the downward trend. Available statistics for the first quarter of 2016 show that the level of greenhouse gas emissions is decreasing. A report produced by UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change show that the total greenhouse gases reduced from 495.212.2 MtCO2e in the last quarter of 2015 to 483.012.2 12.2 MtCO2e in the first quarter of 2016 which is a 2.5% difference. This reduction has been attributed to the reduction in the use of coal for electricity generation in the first quarter of 2016.

Emission Reduction Challenges

The UK seems to be on the right track in reducing its level of greenhouse gas emissions. This has been accompanied by setting ambitious targets and adopting its Climate Change Act. However, if the UK does go ahead with onshore petroleum and gas exploitation, this could hamper the current efforts being made towards reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC)’s report states that onshore petroleum and gas exploitation on a large scale is not compatible with UK’s carbon budgets unless it meets three tests. These tests include tight regulation and close monitoring of emissions, keeping gas consumption within the carbon budget requirement and accommodating shale gas emissions in the carbon budgets.

Onshore petroleum and shale gas exploitation is being considered by the UK as an option for reducing oil imports and meeting its carbon budgets. For shale gas in particular, the government believes that it can be a bridge in electricity generation as the country moves away from coal generation towards energy efficiency, renewables and nuclear. They also believe that the three conditions stated in the CCC report will be met.

Another new challenge might arise from a plan being adopted to collapse the Department of Energy and Climate Change and incorporate them into the Business Department. This has been met with concerns that climate change may no longer be a priority. However, the Minister of the now Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has a track record of being a strong supporter of green issues. Hopefully, with this track record, climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will still remain a priority for the UK government.

–Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Fridah Siyanga-Tembo

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