Last reviewed 21 February 2019

Surplus emissions from the second carbon budget should not be carried forward to meet future carbon budgets, committee warns.

In a letter to Energy Minister Claire Perry, seen by Croner-i, the Chair of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Lord Deben, warns that carrying forward surplus emissions “undermines the integrity of the emissions reduction framework set out in the Climate Change Act”.

The Committee, which advises the Government on carbon budgets, has concluded that the second carbon budget, which covered 2013–2017, was met with emissions 384 MtCO2e (14%) below the level of the budget.

But Lord Deben’s letter points out that surplus in the second carbon budget was due to external factors and that the majority of policy indicators for the second carbon budget were not met.

“The surplus is not due to policy, but very largely due to accounting changes in the EU Emissions Trading System and the lasting effects of the recession,” the letter says.

Section 17 of the Climate Change Act requires the Government to seek the advice of the Committee before making decision on whether any resulting surplus emissions should be carried forward to meet future carbon budgets. The Government has previously accepted the advice of the CCC not to not to carry forward surplus emissions from the first carbon budget.

The Committee’s assessment of key indicators that have failed to meet carbon budget targets include transport, buildings, agriculture and F-gasses. Emissions to landfill and biodegradable waste did show some emissions reduction, but the majority, around 80% of the surplus has occurred due to changes in the UK’s share of the EU ETS cap, rather than a reduction in actual emissions.

In his letter, Lord Deben argues that reducing effort to cut emissions in the next three carbon budgets by carrying forward surplus emissions, is not consistent with the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, and would make future budget targets of 80% target by 2050, even more difficult to achieve.

“We welcome your confirmation in the House that it is your intention to meet the carbon budgets through domestic action,” Lord Deben added.