The UK’s latest greenhouse gas projections up to the 2030s point to both the fourth and fifth carbon budgets being substantially breached unless long-overdue policies emerge. The UK’s latest greenhouse gas emissions projections reveal the mitigation gap relative to tightening carbon budgets is set to widen to almost 400mt CO2 equivalent by 2032 as new policies continue to be delayed. The updated energy and emissions data for 2018, released on 16 April, confirm expectations that the third five-year carbon budget from 2018 to 2022 is likely to be met comfortably, with headroom of 88MtCO2e. But the UK is on course to breach the crucial fourth and fifth carbon budgets from 2023-27 and 2028-32 respectively. The fourth carbon budget, in many ways seen as a five-year transition to deeper reductions, now has a projected shortfall of 139MtCO2e in 2018, up from 94 MtCO2e in 2017. The fifth carbon budget is intended to play a pivotal role in delivering decarbonisation, particularly of the power sector, with carbon intensity of generation now expected to fall from around 300 grams CO2e per kWh to just 41gCO2e/kWh by 2035. Overall, 2030 gross emissions – disregarding carbon trading – are to fall at least 61% relative to 1990. It has to provide the glidepath to meeting the UK’s current 80% target for 2050 cost-effectively, with minimum economic dislocation. Yet the latest data reveal a yawning gap in emissions reduction, with the 2017 reference case shortfall increased from 196MtCO2e to 245 MtCO2e, with scenarios ranging from 176 MtCO2e to as high as 353 MtCO2e. Delayed action is widely recognised as far more costly, challenging and risks economic dislocation.
Environment Analyst 18th April 2019 read more »