The UK’s Climate Targets

The UK Government’s new 78% Carbon Reduction Target

On the 20th of April the UK Government announced an update to its national carbon targets, in line with recommendations from the independent Climate Change Committee for the country’s 6th Carbon Budget, to reduce national emissions by 78% compared to 1990 levels.

The Government has already been making progress against its target of achieving a 68% reduction in emissions by 2030; and this recent announcement, which is anticipated to be passed into law in June, builds on this to mandate a 78% reduction by 2035.

Much has been made of the UK’s presidency of the forthcoming UN Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow towards the end of the year, and the setting of this new highly ambitious target is seeking to set the tone and encourage other countries to follow suit and increase their national commitments in this area.

However, a grand target though this may be, it will necessarily require concerted action from all areas of business, industry and wider society, along with a highly supportive and integrated regulatory framework.


The Scale of the Challenge

The scale of the challenge set by this new target is significant, and approximately amounts to a 60% reduction in emissions against today’s levels over the next 15 years – and as such the actions required to accelerate the nation’s course will need to happen in very short order, if we are to meet this long-term goal.

For the first time, aviation and shipping has been included in this new target, and whilst the pathway to the overarching target of Net Zero by 2050 – the guiding light that informs all the various interim targets – includes the roll-out of policies and technological enhancements that are considered by the Climate Change Committee to be realistic over the coming decades, various legislative levers must be pulled, and the costs will undoubtedly be significant.

Arguably, the Government has a mixed track record in this area. In the residential sector we’ve had the Green Deal, and then the Green Home Grant Scheme – both of which have been scrapped following lacklustre uptake and concerns about high costs and the quality of delivery.

The policies and incentives that are required to hit these targets must be got right, as the scale of the challenge is huge, and impacts all sectors. As a few examples: the UK must double its renewable energy capacity over the next 5 years; concurrently, heat pump installation in the domestic sector must increase to roughly half a million installations annually.

In the automotive sector, networks of EV charging stations must be established and scaled nationally, and significant developments need to occur in the sphere of zero-carbon logistics fleets.

With specific regard to commercial built estates, much will fall squarely on the shoulders of business & industry to drive the progress required, prompted by both an ever more onerous legislative landscape, and significantly enhanced scrutiny from investors and stakeholders who increasingly consider ESG performance as a key investment metric.

Over the past 18 months, the market has seen a flurry of businesses across all sectors making Net Zero or Carbon Neutrality pledges to demonstrate their commitments in this area, and send strong signals to the market that they take carbon performance seriously. Corporate target setting is clearly welcome, but the implementation of strategic planning across the built environment lifecycle is notoriously slow for a multitude of reasons.

In order for businesses to achieve their targets, both swiftly and without potentially wasting significant sums of money through overreliance on the latest technological ‘quick fix’, a considered, thorough and ‘first principles’ approach is required, harnessing the expertise of energy and carbon management professionals who have a strong track record in delivering in times when these issues were not so far up the corporate agenda.


How can ETS help?

For over 20 years, ETS has assisted organisations of all sizes and sectors to dramatically improve the energy efficiency and carbon performance of their buildings – significantly reducing environmental impacts whilst saving substantial sums of money – across individual assets and large international portfolios.

Whatever the nature of your business, we can help. To discuss your requirements, please get in touch with us. You can contact us by calling 0117 379 0850 or drop us an email at    

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