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UK emission targets

The UK has lead the world by setting strong greenhouse gas reduction targets. Emissions since the 1990 baseline are shown to be encouraging: we have already exceeded our Kyoto Protocol target, by twice as much as the required 12.5%. The cuts have been most effective in gases like methane and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide emissions have reduced by one-tenth but we now have a big challenge to bring this down to meet our mid-century targets.

There are currently 3 binding targets for UK emissions reduction:

To encourage progress to meet our targets, we also have a 4 Carbon Budgets, each lasting 5 years (see the green dotted lines on the following graph). These are set by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). There is a useful blog article here: The IPCC Report and the UK 2050 target (25 Nov 2015). It explains why the 80% cut was chosen and how it fits with the hopes of limiting global warming to 2ºC.

Emissions graph

The target emission cuts are all compared against our emissions in 1990 - the "baseline year". The cuts are against our emissions of a selection of greenhouse gases (GHGs), as discussed in the next section: these include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. The graph shows our how our recent emissions compare against these targets. Notice that:

This link takes you to the UK emission targets (original page from 2011). This will give continuity for the other pages in this Emissions section of the website. Noting that the data is not only added to every quarter but it is also subject to a continuous process of improvement and revision.

Our greenhouse gas "basket"

The Kyoto Protocol identified a "basket" of six greenhouse gases, considered to be the most potent and prolific. The following graph shows how these are split in UK emissions.

Emissions graph

What does this mean for UK CO2 targets?

If we reduced the other gases down to zero emissions, we would be allowed to emit more CO2 and still meet our Climate Change Act 80% emissions reduction target. However, there is not much room for manoeuvre, as CO2 is such a dominant part of or greenhouse gas basket.

Emissions graph

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