News story

UK proposes Fourth Carbon Budget

Emissions to be cut by 50% by 2025 A limit on the total amount of greenhouse gases to be emitted by the UK between 2023 to 2027 has been proposed…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Emissions to be cut by 50% by 2025

A limit on the total amount of greenhouse gases to be emitted by the UK between 2023 to 2027 has been proposed to cut Britain’s emissions by 50% from 1990 levels and highlighting the Government’s commitment to being the greenest government ever.

Today’s proposal, set out by Energy and Climate Change Secretary The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, is in line with advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change. It sets a fourth carbon budget of 1950 MtCO2e for the period that will span from 2023 to 2027, putting the UK on course to cut emissions by at least 80% by 2050. The carbon budget will place the British economy at the leading edge of a new global industrial transformation, and ensure low carbon energy security and decarbonisation is achieved at least cost to the consumer.

The package announced today also includes measures to minimise costs of the low-carbon transition to industries exposed to international competition:

  • In line with the Coalition Agreement, Government will continue to argue for an EU move to a 30% target for 2020, and ambitious action in the 2020s. We will review progress in EU climate negotiations in early 2014. If at that point our domestic commitments place us on a different emissions trajectory than the EU Emissions Trading System trajectory agreed by the EU, we will, as appropriate, revise up our budget to align it with the actual EU trajectory.
  • Before the end of the year we will announce a package of measures to reduce the impact of government policy on the cost of electricity for energy intensive industries and to help them adjust to the low-carbon industrial transformation.

The Prime Minister said:

“When the coalition came together last year, we said we wanted this to be the greenest government ever. This is the right approach for Britain if we are to combat climate change, secure our energy supplies for the long-term and seize the economic opportunities that green industries hold.

“In the past twelve months, we have pursued an ambitious green agenda and today, we are announcing the next, historic step. By making this commitment, we will position the UK a leading player in the global low-carbon economy, creating significant new industries and jobs.

“The transition to a low-carbon economy is necessary, real, and global. By stepping up, showing leadership and competing with the world, the UK can prove that there need not be a tension between green and growth.”

The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP said:

“Today’s announcement will give investors the certainty they need to invest in clean energy. It puts Britain at the leading edge of a new global industrial transformation as well as making good our determination that this will be the greenest government ever.

“The Coalition Government has set a fourth carbon budget level, in line with the advice from the Committee on Climate Change, that sends a clear signal about our determination to transform Britain permanently into a low carbon economy. By cutting emissions we’re also getting ourselves off the oil hook, making our energy supplies more secure and opening up opportunities for jobs in the new green industries of the future.

“Through the Green Deal, electricity market reform and the Green Investment Bank we’re already putting in place the tools that will help us meet this ambitious carbon budget. This and every future British Government will have to keep up the pace and put in place the most effective policies to tackle climate change.

“Under this carbon budget, Britain in 2027 will be a different place and transformed for the better with warmer homes powered by green energy, many more cars powered by electricity and far less reliance on fossil fuels to drive our economy.”

Under the fourth carbon budget, government will aim to reduce emissions domestically as far as practical and affordable, but also intends to keep open the option of trading in order to retain maximum flexibility and minimise costs in the medium-long term.

Groundbreaking innovation will play a crucial role in helping Britain to decarbonise its energy supplies by 2027 in the most economical way. Today the Energy Technologies Institute is asking industry to design, build and test longer offshore wind turbine blades to improve performance. Currently blades are typically 40-60 metres long, but the next generation of turbines could have blades measuring more than 90 metres - almost the height of Big Ben.

Notes for editors

  1. The full Ministerial Statement is also available in this News section.

  2. The Committee on Climate Change provided their advice in December 2010.

  3. Further information on the Energy Technologies Institute’s turbine blade announcement can be obtained from Nigel Richardson on 01509 202084 / 07827 946064 or email:

  4. The Carbon Budget covers emissions for all the UK. As required by the Climate Change Act, the UK Government asked the Devolved Administrations for their views on setting the level of the Fourth Carbon Budget.

  5. Under the Climate Change Act, the fourth carbon budget must be set in Parliament by 30 June 2011. Once proposals have been laid before Parliament they will be debated by both houses.

  6. The Act requires that Government publishes a report setting out proposals and policies for meeting the fourth carbon budget ‘as soon as is reasonably practicable’ after setting the new carbon budget in legislation. DECC’s Business Plan specifies that Government intends to publish the report in October 2011, which will be done alongside the Carbon Plan.

  7. The first three carbon budgets are:

Budget 1 Budget 2 Budget 3

Budget level (MtCO2e) 3018 2782 2544

reduction from 1990 levels

23% 29% 35%

Published 17 May 2011