British Government Announces New Carbon Budget Proposal and Other News from the UK

On May 17, 2011, the British government released a proposal to cut national carbon emissions in half by 2027. Parliament will soon vote on the proposal, which was accompanied by an extensive policy statement.

The proposed emissions reduction for the five-year period from 2023 to 2027 supports longer-term targets of the Climate Change Act 2008, which requires the U.K. to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% (relative to 1990 levels) by 2050.

Parliament to Act Upon Newest 5-Year Climate Change Plan

The U.K.’s Climate Change Act – the first of its kind in the world – requires the British government to set carbon budgets for each five-year period leading up to 2050 in order to achieve the 80% reductions by that time. The most recent proposal, which follows three previous five-year budgets leading up to 2023, requires a 50% reduction during 2023–2027.

Once the 2023–2027 targets are passed by Parliament, which must be completed by the end of June, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will produce a “Transition Plan” laying out how the emission reductions would be achieved. The U.K. government hopes to reduce carbon emissions entirely through domestic actions but is leaving the door open for carbon trading schemes.

Carbon Cuts in the European Union

The U.K. also will be continuing to advocate for EU carbon cuts of 30% by 2020. The goals in this carbon budget are contingent on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the EU’s emissions goals. The U.K. target may be loosened if the EU fails to continue on a similar trajectory of carbon cuts.

UK Secretary of State Hune: Proposal to Save Energy, Improve Economy

The Coalition Government’s fourth carbon budget level “sends a clear signal about our determination to transform Britain permanently into a low carbon economy,” said Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne in a press release.

“By cutting emissions we’re also getting ourselves off the oil hook, making our energy supplies more secure and opening up opportunities for jobs in the new green industries of the future,” Huhne continued. “Under this carbon budget, Britain in 2027 will be a different place and transformed for the better with warmer homes powered by green energy, many more cars powered by electricity and far less reliance on fossil fuels to drive our economy.”

More About UK's Fourth Carbon Budget

Also in Britain: Energy Bill Moves to House of Commons...

In early May, the Coalition Government’s energy bill continued in the House of Commons with a second reading – a procedural event in which a draft bill’s general principles are debated before it is passed to a committee.

This bill, originally proposed in December 2010, includes a Green Deal program that would “revolutionize the energy efficiency of British properties.” The program would be available to both those who own and those who rent their properties, and would essentially be an on-bill financing program in which private firms would provide the financing for retrofits, paid back through an addition to utility bills. The Alliance reported on this program in December.

...and Green Investment Bank Gets Government Funding

In late May, further details were released about a much-discussed Green Investment Bank that would finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the U.K.

The government would provide an initial £3 billion (about $5 billion) to launch the bank, though it is hoped that this would draw private investment of an additional £15 billion (about $24 billion). It is expected to be operational in April 2012, but will first need approval from the European Commission, which regulates state aid within the EU.