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Paris climate summit agreement may cause UK to tighten carbon targets

14 December 2015

Britain may need to accept tougher emissions targets after the first universal deal on global warming, according to government advisers. The Committee on Climate Change said that it would examine the impact of the agreement reached at the in Paris on December 12, particularly the tougher commitment it contains to restrict warming to “well below” 2C and to “pursue efforts” to keep it to 1.5C

The committee, which advises the government on how to meet Britain’s legally binding targets for cutting emissions, based its previous recommendations on a goal of 2C.

Matthew Bell, the committee’s chief executive, said that it would consider whether the “carbon budgets”, which set the total amount Britain can emit in a five-year period, should be changed.

The committee will inform the government of its decision in the new year. Much tougher long-term targets would be needed if Britain was serious about meeting the 1.5C target. The annual cost to households of subsidising wind and solar farms and other low-carbon power is due to treble to £140 by 2030, under budgets already recommended.

The committee advised ministers last month that more than half of new cars would have to be powered by electricity within 15 years and, by the 2030s, almost all electricity would have to come from low-carbon sources, such as wind, solar, biomass and nuclear.

This advice is based on Britain’s existing legally binding target of cutting emissions by 80% by 2050, which is one of the strongest set by any country. Nevertheless, scientists said that a much steeper reduction would be needed to keep warming well below 2C.

Amber Rudd, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, declined to say whether Britain would take any additional action to achieve the 1.5C goal for which she had argued in Paris.

She described the 1.5C goal as “aspirational” and added that “at the moment it is only the 2C that’s operational [in setting Britain’s emissions targets].”


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