What You Need to Know About the U.K's Sixth Carbon Budget (At Home and Abroad)
"It's not just a budget, it's a pathway," said Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee, during his opening remarks for the announcement of the U.K.’s Sixth carbon budget last Wednesday. The U.K.'s Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget models the progress the U.K. needs to make between the years 2033 to 2037 to make its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 a viable target. The budget urges for a 78% cut in national emissions by 2035.
While the budget proposal is still waiting for approval from the U.K. government, like the past Carbon Budgets proposed by the CCC, it is expected to be approved and adopted into legislation. The 1000-page report details changes to be made from all parts of life from lifestyle and diet changes to industry-wide changes in the agriculture and aviation sectors. If approved, the Sixth Carbon Budget will be a significant undertaking, requiring an immediate scale-up in planet friendly actions such as replacing gas boilers with low carbon heating and increasing the number of electric cars available to purchase.
The Sixth Carbon Budget is also the first time -in any country- that the government has been presented with a pathway down to net-zero and if the budget is agreed upon, this will be the most ambitious climate action plan from a developed country. With all this in mind, if this budget passes in the U.K., what could this mean globally?
It first comes back to the Paris Agreement. Signed by 195 countries back in 2015, the Paris Agreement requires countries to submit their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) which details their plans in fighting climate change and lowering their emissions in a five-year cycle in order to meet the larger goal of limiting global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius--comparable to temperatures in pre-industrial times.
Many countries in the Paris Agreement, like the U.K., have set 2050 as their goal date for carbon neutrality. However, no other country is tracking what it would take year-by-year to reach their goals like the U.K. We hope that the approval of the Sixth Carbon Budget would push other developed countries into realizing not only the dire importance of having such lofty environmental commitments but start putting together plans to keep themselves accountable to them year after year. Additionally, the Sixth Carbon Budget also shows the economic incentives of “going green” despite the initial cost of investment. Switching to electric cars alone would be saving the U.K. £30 billion a year in fuel costs by 2050.
If approved, the United Nations Climate Change Conference is another chance for the U.K. to set such a dedicated pathway as par for the course globally. Hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland next November will also hopefully put the U.K.’s commitment under new scrutiny (and make them suitably accountable to the pledge) and put pressure on other countries to pledge similarly ambitious and detailed carbon neutrality goals.
What are your thoughts on the Sixth Carbon Budget? How do you think it could change the international stage for climate action? We’d love to hear! Join the conversations via our Instagram channel, or say hi to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org