UK Emission Targets 21 October 2017
The UK has lead the world by setting strong greenhouse gas reduction targets. Emissions since the 1990 baseline are shown to be encouraging: we have already exceeded our Kyoto Protocol target, by twice as much as the required 12.5%. The cuts have been most effective in gases like methane and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide emissions have reduced by one-tenth but we now have a big challenge to bring this down to meet our mid-century targets.
Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) 1 January 2014
The greatest source of uncertainty for anyone trying to predict how the climate will change is us. How will we behave in the future? Will we take the issue seriously and rapidly cut our emissions of greenhouse gases? Or will it be business as usual? There are a number of Emission Scenarios, which have been modelled to try and understand this. This section has been updated to include the new AR5 scenarios.
Zero Carbon Britain 1 October 2013
The Center for Alternative Technology’s Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) is a vision for our country. It is a very well thought out document that demonstrates a sustainable future for the UK, which is not only achievable but also very attractive. I can see – after years looking at the scale of the climate change challenge with a sense of resignation – this Zero Carbon future really is a ray of hope.
New UK targets 1 October 2010
The UK is part of the 27 European countries that negotiate together to agree international targets for emissions reduction. As a group we pledged to cut emissions by 20% to 30% by 2020 in the Copenhagen Accord. If the more ambitious target is adopted, this will mean that the UK will be signing up to a more ambitious 42% cut in emissions. This section shows that this will make a positive difference to global CO2 emissions. By comparison, weaker targets could see us following the worst case emission scenario until at least the 2020s.
Some lingering concerns
There is a lot of positive news about UK targets. If we meet them, and can persuade the rest of the world to follow suit, we could bring emissions down to the lowest modelled emission scenario. We do have a strong government department in place now to help guide and drive us to meet our emissions targets, and there are good plans to help us do this. But we haven’t tested ourselves yet.
Plans to meet UK targets 1 June 2010
Whilst our targets look challenging, there is good reason to be optimistic that we will meet them. The UK government has made strong commitments to tackle this, and its creation of the new Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), in 2008, which is really pushing things forward.
What does the Copenhagen Accord mean? 1 March 2010
Analysing the pledges that were made by 55 parties that signed up to the Copenhagen Accord, you can see that it does not make for a strong agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions. With the Accord alone, it seems very unlikely that we will meet the limit of a 2ºC rise in global temperature. The scale of emissions will be very much determined by the growth of countries like China and India, which could have us following the highest scenarios. And it all of course assumes that countries will honour their pledges, which might not be a guarantee.
Global emissions conclusions
The future of global emissions is still uncertain following the Copenhagen Summit and the Accord that came from it. The pledges that countries have made to reduce emissions don’t offer strong guarantees for the future: the rich countries are not offering very impressive cuts; and carbon-intensive economic-growth, of developing nations, could allow emissions to continue along the highest emission scenario line. Talks have just started at Cancun (Mexico), which will hopefully agree stronger targets. It looks like there is little hope of us restricting global mean temperature rise to 2ºC though.
We are all part of the global warming problem. We all make and impact: we all have a carbon footprint. We all need to start being part of the solution. This page aims to point you in the direction of some personal changes that you can make to help reduce the impact of climate change. It’s partly about what you do in your personal life, the choices you make, the things you do…and don’t do. It is also about electing the right leaders and making sure they build the sustainable infrastructure that we need to live in.
Where to target our efforts
This section looks at the make-up of UK emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and transport need to be targeted as they are particularly significant (at 48% of our greenhouse gas emissions in 2008). We will need to encourage reductions in other sectors as well though. And there is still some scope in reduce emissions of the other greenhouse gases. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme is introduced: whilst it is neither a strong nor sustainable option, the scheme is expected to be important to help us drive down emissions from power and heavy industry.