UK Cuts its Carbon Dioxide Climate Change Target for 2010; Transportation a Stubborn Problem
28 March 2006
|Meeting the original domestic target of a 20% reduction in CO2 is proving too problematic for the UK. Reductions in the total GHG basket are tracking toward Kyoto targets.|
The UK has published a new Climate Change Programme (CCP06) that the government expects to reduce the country’s emissions of carbon dioxide by 15% to 18% below 1990 levels by 2010.
The UK has earlier set of target for itself of a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels by 2010. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) blamed higher than anticipated levels of economic growth and the recent rises in global energy prices which have altered the relative prices of coal and gas for the increasing emissions that made the original 20% target “more challenging.”
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the UK has a target of reducing emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases by 12.5% below base year levels over the commitment period 2008-2012. The cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 20% is a domestic goal which the government had affirmed up to the release of this new document.
The base year for measuring progress towards meeting the Kyoto target is a combination of 1990 and 1995 data. 1990 is the base year for emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). The UK has chosen to use 1995 as the base year for emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol which allows the flexibility to choose either 1990 or 1995 as the base year for the industrial gases.
Carbon dioxide, notes the CCP06, contributed around 77% of the UK’s total emissions of greenhouse gases in 1990: 161.5 million tonnes of carbon (MtC).
The power generation sector has proven the main driver behind the reduction in emissions between 1990 and 2004. While carbon dioxide emissions from power stations fell by 16% per cent between 1990 and 2004, electricity consumption increased by 17%. The reduction in emissions resulted from a switch from coal to gas in electricity generation, together with improved reliability and performance from nuclear generation, according to the report.
|Impact of different aspects of transportation on CO2 emissions.|
Transportation, however, has proven more problematic. In 2004, the transport sector was responsible for around 27% of total UK carbon dioxide emissions. Road transport CO2 emissions grew by 8% between 1990 and 2000 even though average new car fuel efficiency has improved by 10% since 1997, due to increased travel. Forecasts indicate that road transport emissions will grow by another 8% between 2000 and 2010, although the link between traffic growth and economic growth has weakened in recent years.
The CCP06 proposes two new measures to achieve those results in 2010:
A Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation which will require 5% of all UK fuel sales to come from renewable sources by 2010-11; and
Further improving the fuel efficiency of new vehicles, for example through use of fiscal incentives and by working to develop options on how to move forward beyond the first phase of the EU voluntary agreements with automotive manufacturers after 2008.
The government estimates that those efforts can contribute an additional 1.7 million tonnes of carbon savings in 2010, bringing total reductions in the transport sector in 2010 to 6.8 MtC. Further unquantified carbon savings will be delivered through measures to help people make smarter travel choices, including using more fuel efficient vehicles.
The UK is also pushing within the EU to get agreement on including aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 2008 on or as soon as possible thereafter, and is offsetting carbon emissions arising from central Government air travel.
The Government estimates that, as a result of the additional measures we are taking, transport carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 will be 5 per cent lower than they would have been from the original programme (the with measures projections), and 13 per cent lower than they would have been if we had not acted at all (if we had not taken the measures set out in the original climate change programme). This does not mean that we expect total transport emissions to fall.
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