Climate Scorecard Progress Report for the United Kingdom

This report is in the form of memos from Climate Scorecard Country Managers to Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework to Combat Climate Change (UNFCCC). Below is a description of the progress the country has made made in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 and the challenges they still face in order to comply with the IPCC goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.

To: Patricia Espinosa
Executive Secretary

Subject:  Climate Scorecard Progress Report for United Kingdom

From: Gwenyth Wren and Thomas Christensen
Climate Scorecard United Kingdom Country Managers

We serve as Climate Scorecard Country Managers for the United Kingdom and would like to offer you the following climate mitigation progress report from the perspective of my organization.

Since its initial 2015 pledge to the Paris Agreement, the United Kingdom has made fair progress in meeting the goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.


Positive Developments

On the positive side United Kingdom has accomplished the following, the UK was the first major economy to embrace a legal obligation to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan states, “Over the next year we will work with industry to devise further sectoral plans and meet our carbon budgets and target of net zero by 2050.” The plan states, “In the coming year, we will set out further plans for reducing emissions across all the UK’s major economic sectors as outlined below, including our overall Net Zero Strategy, which will clearly set out our pathway to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”

Additionally the UK has invested heavily in renewable energy capacity. According to the IEA, 33% of the UK’s share of electricity generation in 2019 came from wind energy. The United Kingdom has been quite successful in boosting the production of offshore wind power and has become a global leader in this sector, generating enough electricity annually to supply 4.5 million homes. Additionally, the Energy White Paper (December 2020) announced a plan to quadruple offshore wind capacity to power all UK households. By 2050, offshore wind energy could generate 95GW, representing 80% of the country’s renewable portfolio according to the Climate Change Committee’s 6th carbon budget.

The UK also boasts a robust emissions reporting system. BEIS (Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy) provides estimates of UK territorial greenhouse gas emissions, meaning emissions that occur within the UK’s borders. BEIS publishes an emissions report annually which provides annual and quarterly estimates of UK territorial greenhouse gas emissions by source sector.

Remaining Challenges

However the following conditions remain in United Kingdom that threaten its ability to make further progress, and reach the important goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030. The UK is still a major oil and gas importer. Twenty-two percent of all Norwegian exports go to the UK, with high demand for oil and gas, fish and seafood and industrial goods. In 2019, the UK’s imports of oil products stood at 33 thousand kt, while its exports were at -22 thousand kt. The UK doesn’t count the carbon footprint of international travel and imported goods. The Climate Change Commission (a UK government independent, statutory body) recommends that the UK keep track of emissions based on the consumption of goods from overseas. Another area that threatens progress crediting, the country’s state-owned export credit agency, the UK Export Finance, has been committing billions of pounds to overseas fossil fuel projects, the largest proportion of which fall to low or middle-income countries.

Climate Scorecard is committed to working with other like-minded organizations to support efforts by United Kingdom to make further progress in its effort to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and help the Paris Agreement reach its important goals.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about this report or need further information.


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