UK Government aims to cut emissions by 68 per cent by 2029

When it comes to emissions targets, the UK has made a substantial reduction in the last half century alone.

If the government gets its way, we could expect to see a 68 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions as compared with 1990 levels…by 2029.

In 1973, the UK emitted 688 million tonnes of CO2. Back in those days, North Sea gas and oil hadn’t yet come online, and the UK was heavily reliant on oil imported from the Middle East. Fortunately, the UK has seen the error of its ways, and we’ve seen a sea change, with the renewables revolution since the start of the new millennium.

As of 2019, the UK was emitting 354 million tonnes of carbon – still a huge amount, but such a fall in carbon emissions helps reduce our carbon footprint back to figures not seen since 1888!

Halving our carbon emissions took almost half a century. Here’s what’s next.

Government increases targets

The year 1990 is considered something of a world standard, when it comes to measuring progress with regards to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So far, the UK has already cut emissions by up to 40 per cent since this time.

This gives you some idea of the progress that has already been made, as well as the effort required to meet the government’s new ambitious targets by decade’s end. By cutting emissions by that 68 per cent, the UK would immediately find itself at the front of the pack of industrialised nations, reducing its emissions at the fastest rate.

The UK’s new emissions target is among the highest in the world and reflects the urgency and scale of the challenge our planet faces. I hope other countries join us and raise the bar

– Alok Sharma, Business and Energy Secretary and COP26 President 

This commitment comes as the UK seeks to make good on its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as part of its concordance with the Paris Agreement. NDCs are an environmental action plan taken by signatories of the agreement. The collective efforts of signatories to reduce emissions are intended to prevent global temperatures rising by more than 1.5-2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The significance of a lower emissions target

The UK’s plans are impressive, when you consider that our original NDC target for emissions reduction was 53 per cent below 1990 levels. Plans to cut them even further were announced just before the UK was expected to take part in a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As is standard with NDCs, the UK’s target doesn’t account for international aviation and shipping.

News of an even more substantial plan to reduce emissions bolsters the Paris Agreement, barely a month after the US exited it, after the Trump administration’s long-term plans to do so came to fruition. However, with the US election done and dusted, and Joe Biden assuming the role of President-elect, re-admission for the US is expected to be achieved in the next four years.

COP26 is one of the major events in the ecological calendar for the year ahead. Serving as the UN’s major climate change conference, it is expected to be held in Glasgow in November 2021. During this time, the UK will hold the COP Presidency. The UK already boasts the record of being the first major economy to actively put a zero-carbon target into law.

What better way to show off the UK’s green credentials during this time, than to go that bit further when it comes to cutting down on greenhouse gases?

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