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UK sets new target to reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035

Published April 28, 2021

UK sets new target to reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035

The UK government is to set a new target to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, including emissions from aviation and international shipping. The new target will become law by the end of June 2021.  

At the end of 2020, the Climate Change Committee published its Sixth Carbon Budget for the period between 2033 and 2037. According to the Budget, the UK must reduce its emissions by 78% by 2035 if it is to stay on track to meet its 2050 net-zero commitment.  

The new target is a significant tightening of the commitment in the Climate Change Act to reduce emissions by 80% reduction by 2050. It also increases the emissions reduction target of 68% by 2030 set out in the UK’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement.  

The government has also accepted the Carbon Budget’s recommendation that the UK reduce its emissions from international aviation and shipping. Until now, emissions reduction targets only covered emissions within the UK itself.  

Announcing the new target, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We want to continue to raise the bar on tackling climate change. The UK will be home to pioneering businesses, new technologies and green innovation as we make progress to net zero emissions. We want to see world leaders match our ambition in the run up to the crucial climate summit COP26.” 

“This is quite something,” commented Jeremy Nicholson, Alfa Energy’s corporate affairs officer. “Cynics might say governments like to legislate for after they have left office, but in this case if they don’t, there might not be enough time to bring in the changes needed. A target for 14 years isn’t a long time away. We can all fantasize about how things could change in 30 years, but a 15-year horizon requires much more immediate planning. It’s certainly a more live issue for senior people in business than 2050, by which time many will be years into drawing their pensions.”