Britain in pledge to halve greenhouse gas emissions
Ed Davey: energy challenge (Richard Pohle)
BRITAIN will slash its carbon emissions by up to 50% by 2030 in a deal that would transform the nation’s energy and transport systems, under proposals announced today.
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat energy secretary, drew up the pledges after weeks of tough negotiations with the Treasury, where he had to overcome its deep scepticism over such green target setting.
The package would see the UK cutting carbon emissions by 50% compared with 1990, when the country emitted 770m tons of CO2.
Britain’s emissions have since fallen to 572m tons, a 26% decline, but achieving the further 200m tons needed to meet the target will still be a huge challenge, especially for the power and transport sectors which will have to take the brunt of the changes.
Davey’s target is the centrepiece of a package to be put to the European Union and which would apply to all its members.
“The decarbonisation of the EU economy is fundamental to tackling climate change. We will argue for an EU-wide binding emissions reductions target of 50% by 2030,” Davey said.
“We will need significant levels of renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies to meet such an ambitious 2030 EU target. The UK is committed to increasing renewables in our own domestic energy mix.”
A key caveat is that the 50% target will apply across the EU only if a successful treaty emerges from the United Nations-sponsored global climate talks in 2015. If these fail the EU would adopt a lower target of a 40% reduction in emissions. But Davey is expected to make clear that Britain will aim to meet the 50% target anyway.
Since Britain’s demand for power will also grow, it means Davey’s pledge can be achieved only by a massive expansion of low-carbon power generation, almost certainly meaning new nuclear power stations, plus many thousands more wind turbines.