17 September 2011

UK to Miss Carbon Targets

In February 2009 the BBC covered a talk I gave at Aston University in Birmingham in which I first presented a policy analysis of the UK Climate Change Act, which has just passed into law several months earlier.  Here is what the BBC said at the time of my talk:
The UK's plans to cut emissions by 80% by 2050 are fundamentally flawed and almost certain to fail, according to a US academic.

Roger Pielke Jr, a science policy expert, said the UK government had underestimated the magnitude of the task to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
My analysis focused much more on the 2018-2022 near-term target rather than the aspirational 2050 target, but otherwise the BBC article got it pretty much correct.  From certain quarters the reaction to my analysis was swift and damning (emphasis added):
Professor Pielke's intervention was rejected by economist Terry Barker, a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"Pielke's analysis does not tell us how fast an economy can de-carbonise, just how much it has done so in the past when there has been a weak carbon price," he said.

"[His] proposals are diversionary; they fail to emphasise the scale of the no-regrets options available to reduce emissions at net benefit and they do not include potential changes in regulations on vehicles and power stations that could lead to rapid de-carbonisation."
It was thus very interesting to see in the news yesterday coverage of a new report that shows that the UK is going to miss its emissions targets:
Britain will miss government carbon targets by increasingly wide margins over the next 20 years unless it introduces radical policy measures, a report warned on Thursday.
I especially like this bit at the end of the article (emphasis added):
"On existing policies, included those inherited, endorsed and shortly to be put into effect by the coalition, the UK is set to miss the carbon budget targets in the first two budget periods (2008-2012 and 2013-2017) but by a wider margin in the third (2018- 2022) and especially the fourth (2023-2027)," argues the consultancy, a private company owned by a charity and chaired by the Cambridge University academic, Terry Barker.
My 2009 analysis of the UK Climate Change Act can be found here.