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UK to reduce emissions by 68% by 2030 as part of Paris Agreement plan

Published December 18, 2020

UK to reduce emissions by 68% by 2030 as part of Paris Agreement plan

The UK has officially unveiled a target to reduce emissions by 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

The target will act as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, which determines the action each signatory nation must take to deliver the global agreement and build towards net zero by 2050.

The new target is in line with earlier recommendations from the government’s Climate Change Committee. Last week, the CCC also published its Sixth Carbon Budget. This ratchets up the pressure still further on the government for the period between 2033 and 2037. The budget called for a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035.

The UK formally announced its full NDC at the Climate Ambition Summit on 12 December. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Today, we are taking the lead with an ambitious new target to reduce our emissions by 2030, faster than any major economy. But this is a global effort, which is why the UK is urging world leaders as part of next week’s Climate Ambition Summit to bring forward their own ambitious plans to cut emissions and set net-zero targets.”

It is hoped the UK’s new NDC will encourage many more countries to follow suit.

Jeremy Nicholson, Alfa Energy’s corporate affairs officer welcomed the UK announcement: “While other major economies such as China have published net zero pledges, they’ve not updated their NDC yet. The UK announcement is significant because it’s more than a broad aspiration, it affects the Paris Agreement process. All the other signatories will be updating their NDCs and prospects for this are looking better now than before because of the UK’s announcement. President-elect Biden will no doubt re-sign the Paris Agreement, and I imagine he has already discussed an update to the USA’s NDC with John Kerry.”

Despite the Trump administration’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement, the US is close to meeting its original NDC commitment, thanks to the low price of gas effectively spelling the end of the coal-fired power station. 

“There is no reason to think the US’s NDC couldn’t be tightened up,” added Nicholson, “given the states’ progress in the absence of federal policy. Although I can’t imagine the US trying to impose a federal phase out of internal combustion engines like we’ve seen in the UK, states such as California are going that way anyway.”