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Last edited 27 Apr 2021
Climate target revisions for Carbon Budget 6
On 21 April 2021, the Government announced legislation to set Carbon Budget 6 (CB6) at the level recommended by the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) on 9 December 2020. This revised target sets CB6 at 965 MtCO2e and reduces emissions 78% from 1990 to 2035.
The Government suggests these revisions to CB6 are about its ambition to cut emissions, rather than it being an announcement of specific policies that will deliver those reductions in emissions. It plans to bring forward policies to meet carbon budgets and support its net zero strategy before COP26 in November 2021.
 Exceeding expectations
The purpose of this measure is to limit the volume of greenhouse gases emitted over a five-year period (from 2033 to 2037), taking the UK more than three-quarters of the way to reaching net zero by 2050. This change recalibrates figures for the UK and aligns CB6 with the Paris Agreement temperature goal limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts towards 1.5°C. These measures will become law by the end of June 2021.
According to Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK exceeded its first and second Carbon Budgets. The country “...is on track to outperform the third Carbon Budget, which ends in 2022. Moreover, the UK continues to break records in renewable electricity generation, which has more than quadrupled since 2010 while low carbon electricity overall now gives us over 50% of our total generation.”
 Supporting COP26
The crucial UN climate summit will take place in Glasgow in 2021 after being delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahead of COP26, the Government introduced the campaign, Together For Our Planet, calling on businesses, civil society groups, schools and the public to take action on climate change.
The UK is the first G7 country to agree to a North Sea Transition Deal to support the oil and gas industry’s transition to an improved environmental approach to operations. The Government, industry and trade unions will work together over the next decade and beyond to deliver the skills, innovation and new infrastructure required to decarbonise North Sea production.
The cross-government Net Zero Strategy will also be published ahead of COP26, with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng currently commissioning work across Whitehall to help inform the ambitious plans across key sectors of the economy.
HM Treasury is preparing a Net Zero Review setting out how the Government plans to maximise economic growth opportunities from the net zero transition, while ensuring contributions are fair between consumers, businesses and the British taxpayer.
While “delighted to see the Government taking the climate crisis seriously and leading the world with these new targets,” ECA Energy & Emerging Technologies Solutions Advisor Luke Osborne commented, “We need more action to match the ambition. Around 70% of specialist engineering services firms say they lack enough competent staff to undertake ‘low to no carbon’ work. We need a solid plan from the Government to give industry the confidence to develop robust training and invest in the skills needed to deliver these new targets. Otherwise, this latest announcement might be looked back on as empty rhetoric.”
CIAT President, Eddie Weir PCIAT, said "It is important to remember that these targets can only be met with a holistic and collective response from all within the built environment, from education through to practice and construction. CIAT pledges to continue to commit resources to support these government targets."
CBI Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said, “The target emphasises the importance of the 2020s as a decade of delivery on our climate ambitions, and urgent action is needed now to make this a reality.”
Executive Director of Green Alliance Shaun Spiers said, “By accepting the CCC’s recommendations for CB6, the Government has sent out a resounding message, domestically and internationally, that the UK is taking its net zero emissions target seriously. What we need now is to ensure there is no gap between ambition and policy, so the UK has the right tools in its armoury to meet these targets.”
Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group stressed, “Focus must now turn to strengthening the UK’s policy framework to meet this new target by putting in place a detailed and cross-departmental net zero strategy that will drive private investment in low carbon goods and services, supply chains, jobs and skills.”
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