UK set to beat 2020 emission targets

climate change, fuel efficiency, carbon plan, nuclear The UK is set to improve upon its emission reduction targets for 2020, according to the British government. UK minister for energy and climate change Chris Huhne said the country is on track to exceed its 2020 emission cutting target, even before lower emissions from a slowing economy are factored into the equation. In other words, Huhne says the country would have met the target even without the recession. The 2020 target requires the UK to lower its emissions by 34 percent.

Huhne’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) went on to say that under its “Carbon Plan,” the UK is bound by law to reduce its emissions by a minimum of 80 percent on 1990 levels by the year 2050. The UK was the first country to set its emissions reduction ambitions in law, meaning that no matter the political leaning of future parliaments, they will be obliged to meet this target. The aim of the law is to provide long-term security to investors.

25 percent reduction

According to the government, UK emissions have already been reduced by 25 percent on 1990 levels, and that with the policies already put in place the country is set to exceed the target in place over the first fifteen years of the scheme.

Huhne revealed the figures before departing for South Africa in November 2011 for a new round of climate talks. He said the carbon plan sent out two important messages:

“To the negotiators in Durban working this week and next to make progress on a global agreement on climate change, the Carbon Plan shows the UK is walking the walk, demonstrating that it can be done and living up to our promise to show climate leadership,” he said.

“To the public and businesses at home, rightly worried about the cost of living and state of the economy, the Carbon Plan shows that the gradual rebalancing of our economy away from carbon is achievable and, in the long run, highly desirable. Every bit of progress we make is one more step away from import dependency, away from price volatility and from the emissions that threaten our way of life.  Our national economic interest is to be found in a cost-effective transition to low carbon, to an economy that is more resilient, innovative and efficient.”

‘Easy wins’

The DECC said the current decade will see emissions reductions made through ‘easy wins,’ through activities such as insulating cavity walls and lofts through the “Green Deal” scheme, improving the fuel efficiency of cars, and replacing older coal-powered energy plants with gas-fired and renewable facilities.

Following these ‘easy wins,’ the DECC claimed the following decade would see the mass deployment of what it sees as key technologies. These technologies will aim to make the nation’s buildings lower carbon, reduce emissions from transport through low-emission vehicles, and decarbonizing the country’s power supply by developing low-carbon generating capacity, including the equivalent of up to five twin reactor nuclear stations.

As part of DECC’s Carbon Plan, the department has also unveiled an online 2050 calculator that allows the public to compare the savings of future energy systems.

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