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Emissions gap: UK projected to miss future carbon targets as youths take to the streets

The UK has made recent progress in reducing emissions, but a new government report reveals it’s set to miss future carbon budget goals by a widening margin.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy released its Updated Energy and Emissions Projections report for 2018, and found the UK is increasingly unlikely to hit its legally-binding carbon targets for the 2023-27 and 2028-32 periods under current policies.

These “projected shortfalls” increased since the 2017 report, making an even larger gap to contend with as the UK looks to cut emissions moving forward. The UK is now expected to miss the 2023-27 target by 5.6%, and the 2028-32 target by 9.6%. The report does note that “many policies which will affect the 2020s and beyond have not yet been developed to the point at which they can be included in these projections.”

It’s a splash of cold water after a March report from the same government office showed total greenhouse gas emissions were down 3% in the UK from 2017 to 2018, and CO2 emissions were down 2%. Renewable energy also made up a third of the UK’s electricity generation in 2018.

The UK does look as if it will hit its targets for the 2018-2022 period, however, with the government report claiming the carbon budget is “very likely” to be achieved. As the report notes, “Uncertainty analysis indicates that even the highest emission scenario would be within budget.”

The UK Climate Change Act 2008 requires the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050.

Climate Strike

News of the UK sliding further away from future targets comes at a time when tens of thousands of students are expected to protest climate change across the UK today in at least 60 demonstrations, as The Guardian reports.

These protests are the latest round in the worldwide Fridays for Future climate strike movement, and the UK should see big numbers as many students are on break.

Electrek’s Take

The UK has made progress in reducing its emissions, but this updated report shows current policies aren’t enough. It’s a stark reminder of how much work has to be done to meet goals — not just for the UK, but for all those who aim to follow the Paris Agreement, or who set their own ambitious goals toward reducing emissions and mitigating climate change.

That being said, the UK is taking an active role in tracking its progress. If projections are missing their marks, policies can be adjusted. More can be done. This puts the UK in a position to react, and others should be doing the same.

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Phil Dzikiy is an Editor/Writer with Electrek/9to5Mac. Tips: