The prime minister of the United Kingdom has announced a new, increased climate target for 2030 of at least 68% greenhouse gas emission cuts, just in time before he co-organises the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement. This announcement is also taking place a few days ahead of a European Council where EU leaders should also adopt a new, more ambitious 2030 climate target.
The UK intends to meet its target through the so-called “Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution”, which aims to deliver on 250,000 British jobs and £40 billion of private investment by 2030 in order to develop innovative technologies and make significant strides in cutting emissions across energy, transport, and buildings.
The announcement, which falls below the demands of UK NGOs, comes ahead of the UK co-hosting the Climate Ambition Summit on Saturday 12 December, which will coincide with the fifth anniversary of the historic Paris Agreement. The summit calls on countries around the world to submit ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs, eg. 2030 climate targets) or other climate plans as we head towards the UN COP26 climate talks, which the UK Government is hosting in Glasgow next year.
The new UK 2030 climate target is a 15% increase to what the UK assumed was its responsibility under the current EU’s 40% target. The increase does compare to an increase of the EU’s emission reduction target of currently 40% to 55%. There is however a risk that the EU will fall behind the UK in ambition. The UK’s climate target does not include carbon removals (through the uptake of CO2 by forests, wetlands, and peatlands) while the Commission is pushing for the EU’s 55% target to include removals. This accounting trick would water down EU ambition and result, depending on the EU success in protecting biodiversity, in only 50-53% real emission cuts, well below the UK’s level of ambition.
Reacting to the announcement, Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:
“It is good to see the UK substantially increasing its climate objectives. This is the minimum that can be expected from the presidency of next year’s Climate Summit. While this proposal should be an incentive for all other major emitters to do the same, the UK government should recognise more will need to be done to fulfill its commitment under the Paris Agreement to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. Hence the UK should already now plan a review of this target.”
“With this announcement, the UK is also challenging EU leaders to finalise their homework. The upcoming European Council is the EU’s last chance to meet the Paris Agreement deadline. EU leaders must see the writing on the wall and clinch a deal on the highest climate goal possible, and it must go beyond the Commission’s proposal which would represent only 50 to 53% of real emission cuts. A target of at least 55% emission reductions would be the minimum for the EU to continue to claim climate leadership.”
Nicolas Derobert, Head of communications, email@example.com, +32 483 62 18 88