Carbon Plan - UK economy on track to meet targets

Published: 05/01/2012

The task of rebalancing the UK economy away from carbon is progressing well and is set to result in greater energy security and the development of new innovative technologies, the Government’s Carbon Plan has shown.

Taking 1990 levels as the benchmark, UK emissions must, by law, be reduced by at least 80% by 2050. The UK was first to set its ambition in law, with binding carbon budgets spanning successive Parliaments to give the necessary certainty to investors.

The Carbon Plan sets out progress to date and assesses cost-effective next steps.

It shows:

  • that UK emissions have already been cut by more than 25% on 1990 levels
  • that with the policies already in place the economy will significantly exceed the 34% target set for the first 15 years under the Climate Change Act, and would have done so even if the recession had not occurred
  • that meeting the fourth carbon budget of a 50% cut in emissions by the mid-2020s will not have any additional cost implications during this Parliament, but beyond that will require a decade of mass deployment of key technologies

The Carbon Plan focuses on viable ways of meeting the fourth carbon budget – getting to a 50% reduction in emissions by the mid-2020s.

Aims are to:

  • make buildings lower carbon – up to around a half of the heat used in buildings will need to be low carbon by 2030
  • reduce emissions from transport including ultra-low emission vehicles – the average emissions of new cars will need to fall by at least 50% by 2030
  • decarbonise the UK power supply through 40-70GW of new low carbon generating capacity including:
    • the equivalent of 3-5 twin reactor stations of the type recently applied for at Hinckley Point C
    • 3-5 times as much renewable power than is currently installed
    • Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology on up to 10GW of fossil fuel plant

The Carbon Plan also considers the cost of meeting the UK’s 80% target by 2050. A revised online 2050 Calculator (downloadable from the Department of Energy and Climate Change website) allows users to compare the cost of their chosen future energy system compared to doing nothing, or to other low carbon pathways.

The Calculator introduces the concept of energy system cost, averaged over the 4 decades to 2050, measured for illustrative purposes in pounds per person per year.

The full report is available from the DECC website.

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