UK sets new legally binding emissions target



Posted on 17 May 2011  | 
Industry's immense capacity for innovation can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
© WWF-Canon / Hartmut JungiusEnlarge
London, UK: The United Kingdom, the first to enshrine reductions in climate change causing emissions into law, today announced a 2025 target of a 50 per cent emissions cut from 1990 levels.

The target, enshrined in the 4th Carbon Budget for the period 2023-2027, was the minimum level recommended by the independent Committee on Climate Change. 

WWF-UK welcomed the decision, saying it represented a significant and meaningful step towards a low-carbon UK, although scrutiny of the detail will be vital.

But WWF also said the struggle the self-proclaimed "greenest Government ever" had to endure in order to agree it does leave concerns over how committed some Government departments are to tackling climate change.

"No other country has set legally binding emission reduction targets going into the 2020s and so with this decision the UK is demonstrating genuine leadership on climate change," said Keith Allott, WWF-UK’s head of climate change. "The Climate Change Act remains a groundbreaking piece of legislation that with support, will underpin the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy.”

“However, we must remember that the Committee on Climate Change had made clear that the carbon budget agreed today is the "absolute minimum" necessary, and that it should be achieved through actions taken here in the UK rather than relying on emission credits from overseas.

"The unwillingness of Government to accept this recommendation suggests that some Whitehall departments are more committed to action than others."

WWF is keen to see more countries follow the initiatiive of enshrining emissions reductions targets into law.  The UK's Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, provides a framework for UK emissions to be reduced to at least 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050 - a target consistent with the reductions advocated by the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Act showed it had real teeth when Britain's High Court last year said the emissions implications of the proposed Heathrow Airport expansion had to be considered in the economic case for the project.





Industry's immense capacity for innovation can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
© WWF-Canon / Hartmut Jungius Enlarge

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