The UK government announced that its fourth carbon budget will remain unchanged, despite intense pressure to weaken the measures.
The announcement comes as “welcomed news” to NGOs, business groups and the renewables sector, who say it brings “an end to months of uncertainty” and “offers investor confidence… into funding the transition to a low carbon economy”.
Jon Williams, partner, PwC sustainability and climate change said:
By sticking to its guns on carbon targets, the coalition government will help bring some much needed investor confidence, and more importantly capital, into funding the transition to a low carbon economy. Investors have consistently argued that all they need is long term, transparent and credible policy against which they can make investment decisions, and this is a step in the right direction. It also shows the UK’s continued political leadership in Europe and globally at this crucial time on the road to Paris in 2015.
The move is also seen as a win for Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, who fought to preserve the existing targets is the face of a long political battle to dilute them.
In retaining its commitments, it appears the UK government has listened to the calls from leading businesses and its own advisors – the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – suggesting that strong policies will boost investment and limit climate risk, as it takes another step towards the government’s long term goal of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050.
By sticking to the current binding goal of slashing emissions by 50% across 2023-2027 against 1990 levels, the UK retains the most ambitious target in the developed world.
Green groups, from both the UK and around the world, are now calling on the government to continue to back strong climate action on the international front, by “providing global leadership” and “building confidence among developing countries” when Heads of State meet in New York this December for the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit.
Srinivas Krishnaswamy, CEO The Vasudha Foundation in India said:
It is good to know that the UK Government is keeping to its commitment of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80% by 2050 to 1990 levels and with this announcement, it seems that they are sticking to their milestone of achieving a 50% reduction in emissions to 1990 levels by 2025. We do hope that they are able to achieve this target and even exceed it. This would build confidence among developing countries that, economic growth can be achieved even without an increase in emissions.
In the UK, groups now are calling for “tough policies…to meet these targets”.
A recent progress report from the CCC warned that failing to implement additional policies to ensure emission reductions could mean the government falls short of the targets it has worked to hard to retain.
David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK said:
Looking ahead, we need the next Government – of whatever political complexion – to ensure policies are in place to attract the significant investment in low-carbon infrastructure needed in the coming decade to meet the emission cuts set out in the budget.
As the UK heads into an Parliamentary Election in 2015, the message is clear: “all parties must make this a priority in their manifestos”.