The fifth carbon budget has just been made law, committing the UK to limiting its annual emissions between 2028 and 2032 to an average of 57% below 1990 levels.
The turmoil of the EU referendum and the reorganisation of Government departments have delayed the formal process of making the new budget legal.
ClientEarth Lawyer Jonathan Church said: “Meeting the carbon budget must be at the heart of the Department’s work and not allowed to fall between the cracks. The fifth carbon budget is a very welcome statement of commitment. Now we need concrete action.”
Since the budget was announced on 30 June, the Government – old and new – has said it is committed to tackling climate change, and to the carbon budgets which are so central to driving and guiding our efforts.
That the new budget has been set in the midst of such political uncertainty is a testament to the robustness of the Climate Change Act, and the value of the clear deadlines enshrined within it.
While the Government was right to follow the advice of the Committee on Climate Change (setting the budget at 57% below 1990-levels), it is worth remembering that these reductions are only the “minimum level”, according to the Paris Agreement.
Now the Government must prepare policy plans which ensure the UK stays within its carbon budget. Not only that, it must urgently address the lack of policies for meeting the fourth carbon budget, which covers the period 2023 to 2027.
The Government has committed to releasing its new plans by the end of the year. This will be a key test of the new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.