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UK proposes Fourth Carbon Budget – Emissions to be cut by 50% by 2025

“Britain in 2027 will be a different place and transformed for the better ”
(Secretary of State, Chris Huhne)

A limit on the total amount of greenhouse gases to be emitted by the UK between 2023 to 2027 has been proposed to cut Britain’s emissions by 50% from 1990 levels and highlighting the Government’s commitment to being the greenest government ever.

Today’s proposal, set out by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, is in line with advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change. It sets a fourth carbon budget of 1950 MtCO2e for the period that will span from 2023 to 2027, putting the UK on course to cut emissions by at least 80% by 2050. The carbon budget will place the British economy at the leading edge of a new global industrial transformation, and ensure low carbon energy security and decarbonisation is achieved at least cost to the consumer.

The package announced today also includes measures to minimise costs of the low-carbon transition to industries exposed to international competition:

• In line with the Coalition Agreement, Government will continue to argue for an EU move to a 30% target for 2020, and ambitious action in the 2020s. We will review progress in EU climate negotiations in early 2014. If at that point our domestic commitments place us on a different emissions trajectory than the EU Emissions Trading System trajectory agreed by the EU, we will, as appropriate, revise up our budget to align it with the actual EU trajectory.

• Before the end of the year we will announce a package of measures to reduce the impact of government policy on the cost of electricity for energy intensive industries and to help them adjust to the low-carbon industrial transformation.

The Prime Minister said:

“When the coalition came together last year, we said we wanted this to be the greenest government ever. This is the right approach for Britain if we are to combat climate change, secure our energy supplies for the long-term and seize the economic opportunities that green industries hold.

“In the past twelve months, we have pursued an ambitious green agenda and today, we are announcing the next, historic step. By making this commitment, we will position the UK a leading player in the global low-carbon economy, creating significant new industries and jobs.

“The transition to a low-carbon economy is necessary, real, and global. By stepping up, showing leadership and competing with the world, the UK can prove that there need not be a tension between green and growth.”

Chris Huhne said:

“Today’s announcement will give investors the certainty they need to invest in clean energy. It puts Britain at the leading edge of a new global industrial transformation as well as making good our determination that this will be the greenest government ever.

“The Coalition Government has set a fourth carbon budget level, in line with the advice from the Committee on Climate Change, that sends a clear signal about our determination to transform Britain permanently into a low carbon economy. By cutting emissions we’re also getting ourselves off the oil hook, making our energy supplies more secure and opening up opportunities for jobs in the new green industries of the future.

“Through the Green Deal, electricity market reform and the Green Investment Bank we’re already putting in place the tools that will help us meet this ambitious carbon budget. This and every future British Government will have to keep up the pace and put in place the most effective policies to tackle climate change.

“Under this carbon budget, Britain in 2027 will be a different place and transformed for the better with warmer homes powered by green energy, many more cars powered by electricity and far less reliance on fossil fuels to drive our economy.”

Under the fourth carbon budget, government will aim to reduce emissions domestically as far as practical and affordable, but also intends to keep open the option of trading in order to retain maximum flexibility and minimise costs in the medium-long term.

Groundbreaking innovation will play a crucial role in helping Britain to decarbonise its energy supplies by 2027 in the most economical way. Today the Energy Technologies Institute is asking industry to design, build and test longer offshore wind turbine blades to improve performance. Currently blades are typically 40-60 metres long, but the next generation of turbines could have blades measuring more than 90 metres – almost the height of Big Ben.