New Data Suggests the UK Will Fail to Reach Its Ambitious 2030 68% Emissions Reduction Goal 

The UK has committed to reducing carbon emissions by 68% by 2030; although this is still a worthy goal, new government data suggests that the UK will not meet its legal climate targets by 2030 (The Guardian, 30 March). Indeed, government calculations suggest that only 92% of the reduction emissions required to meet the 2030 targets will be attained.

Critics claim the plans are “thin, blinkered and leave the UK lagging well behind the US and EU” with a focus on expensive and unproven technologies such as CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) rather than on ready-to-go solutions. This could cause the UK to play catchup to remain a global leader in renewable energy.

In July last year, the UK government’s strategy was labelled as being unlawful by the High Court and did not provide a clear pathway on how net zero could be achieved.

As a result, a policy paper entitled Powering up Britain was published last month which

aims to help solidify energy security by providing a cheaper, cleaner domestic energy system that is not so heavily reliant on international fossil fuel prices. Key points from the recent paper include:

  • Cut final energy demand from buildings and industry by 15%
  • Commitment to install over 600,000 heat pumps per annum
  • Have up to 1 GW of electrolytic hydrogen in operation or construction
  • Build up to 70GW of solar PV with a capacity to power around 20 million homes

The policy paper has since faced a mixed response, with criticism from both academics and environmental groups suggesting that the paper is filled with “underpowered positive measures.” For example, the effectiveness of carbon capture has been questioned by environmental organisations. In addition, the government is still to decide whether to incorporate green/blue hydrogen into the heating network – something that has drawn widespread criticism from scientists and residents.

Climate Action Tracker also has highlighted some key flaws in the UK’s approach, including insufficient financial incentives and policies to target non-social housing and private buildings; no meaningful strategies addressing societal change relating to red meat consumption; a counter-productive approach to net zero targets with the continuing approval of oil and gas exploration in the North Sea; and a lack of sufficient engagement programmes surrounding heat pumps – as a consequence, the UK has the lowest heat pump installation rate in Europe.

Climate Action Tracker has therefore stated that “the UK will remain off-track to meet its climate targets,” with emissions falling to 58-63% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Overall, the UK’s 2030 targets lack transparency surrounding how its policies, business models, and frameworks will impact the climate crisis and enable the UK to reach its goals.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard UK Country Manager J Michael Thompson


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