UK to retain emissions target

The UK government will retain its 2023-27 target for cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, resisting reported pressure to water it down.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey says revising the so-called fourth carbon budget would be premature, given that the government estimates that UK and EU levels of ambition on carbon-cutting “are likely to be extremely close”.

Davey reportedly came under pressure from chancellor George Osborne to downgrade the greenhouse targets after he warned that they could undermine economic growth.

“The decision I have taken is consistent with the advice of the Committee on Climate Change. It also reflects the views of the vast majority of businesses, investors and environmental groups,” Davey says.

Having conducted a detailed review, he adds, it is clear that the evidence does not support amending the budget. “Any revision now would be premature, especially in light of the ongoing negotiations in the EU to agree a domestic 40% GHG reduction target for 2030 by October this year based on the European Commission proposals published in January 2014.”

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) says the decision is good news for the green economy and a sustainable future.

“This decision puts independent expertise and long-term thinking ahead of the possible lure of political point scoring. Across renewable power, heating and transport fuels, investors need certainty that when it comes to the low-carbon economy, the government is in it for the long-term,” says REA chief executive Nina Skorupska.

The Confederation of British Industry says it is “sensible” to maintain the fourth carbon budget at this point.

“The priority must now be to ensure a successful conclusion to negotiations across Europe on a robust but credible emissions reduction target, so that our climate ambitions are aligned,” says Nicola Walker, the confederation's director for business environment.