Image:  Chimneys emitting clouds of polution into the atmosphere

The Global and National Response


Not only is there overwhelming agreement about the reality of climate change – there is also a strong and long-standing international consensus that it needs to be addressed through dramatic reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has resulted in binding international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, perhaps most notably through the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015. The UK has meanwhile taken a strong initiative in adopting its own legally binding greenhouse gas reduction targets via the Climate Change Act of 2008.

 Image:  Bali conference on climate change

The Climate Change Act commits the UK government to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. In order to do this, the government is required to set legally binding ‘carbon budgets’ for each five year period up to 2050: maximum permissible carbon emissions for each period, which will gradually reduce to reach the 2050 target. Budget levels are recommended in advance by the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC), based upon its analysis of what reductions are likely to be achievable across all key economic sectors. CCC are of the view that, to meet the government’s binding targets, almost all the UK’s electricity will need to come from renewable or other low carbon sources by 2030.




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