The world’s first carbon budget went largely unnoticed as media coverage of Alistair Darling’s Budget was dominated by headlines surrounding the scale ofthe country’s debt crisis. The carbon budget is a legal requirement of the UK’s Climate Change Act 2008(CCA) and set out a series of fiscalstimuli designed to put the UK ontrack to reduce carbon emissions by a third by 2020.
However, green groups argued that the reduction levels targeted should have been 42% of 1990 emissions levels, a cut they hope will be agreed at the December climate change meeting COP15 in Copenhagen.
According to WWF’s head of climate change, Keith Allott, ‘This is a serious missed opportunity to lay the foundations of a truly low carbon future in the UK, and to show much-needed leadership in the EU and globally.’
Speaking at a Westminster energy, environment and transport forum on carbon budgets in April,Michael Woods, partner andhead of climate change at law firm Eversheds also pointed outpotential loopholes in the ClimateChange Act, which may make it possible for government to wriggle out of its obligations.
In the UK, the CCA mandatesan 80% cut in carbon emissionsby 2050 in order to play its part in keeping global temperature rises below 2°C to avert ‘dangerousclimate change’ (see panel right).The carbon budgets requiredby the Act set out in five-year instalments how the governmentplans to achieve this. David Kennedy, chief executive of theUK Committee on Climate Changenoted that the cost of meeting the carbon budgets was estimated atless than 1% of GDP.