UK greenhouse gas emissions should be cut by at least 68% by 2030 as part of global efforts to tackle climate change, Government advisers have said.
The Government is set to announce plans for cutting emissions by 2030, under the global Paris Agreement which commits countries to taking action to curb temperature rises to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
The Committee on Climate Change has recommended the UK should commit to cutting emissions by at least 68% on 1990 levels by 2030, under its Paris plans, known as “nationally determined contributions” or NDCs.
The 68% cut would be a “clear progression” from existing commitments under domestic law, which require a 61% reduction by 2030, the committee said.
In a letter to Business Secretary Alok Sharma, the advisory committee said cuts of that level would be in line with the UK’s international commitments and would place the UK “among the leading countries in climate ambition”.
The Paris Agreement commits countries to keeping temperature rises “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit them to 1.5C, seen as the threshold beyond which the worst impacts of climate change will be felt.
To meet the 1.5C target, the world’s carbon emissions must fall to net zero by 2050, with significant cuts in pollution and any remaining emissions offset by planting trees or using technology to capture carbon.
Existing national plans around the globe put the world well off track to meet the goals, so countries are due to submit new proposals this year to cut emissions over the next decade, with an online summit being hosted by the UK, France and the United Nations later this month seen a key moment.
The UK was formerly covered by a European Union-wide climate plan but is now submitting its own post-Brexit NDC.
At the Climate Ambition Summit, leaders will commit to plans that help communities & countries adapt to the effects of climate change.
— COP26 (@COP26) December 3, 2020
Reports suggest the Government is set to announce plans for cuts of around 68% or 69%, though there are calls for bolder targets, with church leaders urging ministers to sign up to 75% reductions by 2030.
In the letter, committee chairman Lord Deben said a 68% cut would put the UK in line with what is needed to meet the 1.5C goal.
It would be “eminently achievable” if effective policies were introduced across the economy without delay, which in turn would bring significant benefits for the UK’s economic recovery.
He said the national climate plan was more than a just a number, adding: “It should be accompanied by wider climate commitments, including the development of a policy package and net zero strategy to deliver against the UK goal, clear commitments to reduce international aviation and shipping emissions, and greater support for climate finance, particularly for developing countries.
“It is also imperative that the NDC is accompanied by strengthened climate change adaptation plans – with new commitments – for the UK to show its leadership on emissions reduction and adaptation.”