UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd has acted to dispel fears that the EU referendum would mean a weakening of UK climate change legislation by adopting a tough 5th carbon budget.
The new 5th Carbon Budget enables the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent by 2030 on 1990 levels. According to Adam Vaughan, writing in The Guardian, Ms Rudd accepted advice given by the government’s statutory climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
The new carbon budget is tougher than the carbon emissions target already observed by the UK as part of the European Union (EU), which requires a 40 percent cut by 2030 on 1990 levels.
The decision has been welcomed by business groups and by environmental organisations, including Greenpeace. However, if it is to be taken seriously, the Government will need to implement a range of additional policies aimed at ensuring the delivery of the emissions reductions, including realistic measures on energy, homes, cars, agriculture and aviation. The government will also have to reduce the UK’s current dependency on imported natural gas as well as implementing an effective energy efficiency strategy.
Ms Rudd’s energy minister, Andrea Leadsom, confirmed that the UK remained committed to the Climate Change Act which mandates the new carbon budget.
Carbon budgets place restrictions on the total amount of greenhouse gases the UK can emit over a 5-year period. The UK is the first country to set legally-binding carbon budgets which require the country to balance any increases in emissions in certain sectors with corresponding emissions reductions in others. To this end, the Government has set a 5th Carbon Budget, covering the period 2028 to 2032 in which emissions levels are set at 1,725 million tons carbon equivalent (MtCO2e).
One of the organisations broadly welcoming the new carbon budget is the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) which points out that growth in the AD industry has been put at risk by changes to support mechanisms like the Feed-in Tariff, when what is needed is reassurance and a clear vision from the Government, for both food waste collection and farm-based AD. These factors have both been reflected in the CCC advice recommending that the Government should introduce consistent food waste collection services across the country and encouragement of the growth of AD in support of manure and waste management on farms thereby helping to reduce agricultural emissions and supporting strong farming businesses.