Through the Climate Change Act, the UK government has committed to reduce emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels (Net Zero) by 2050. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, the UK has committed to contribute to global emission reductions to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts towards 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
The Climate Change Act requires the UK government to set legally-binding ‘Carbon Budgets’ which act as stepping stones towards the 2050 target. A Carbon Budget is a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the UK over a five-year period. Budgets must be set at least 12 years in advance to allow policy-makers, businesses and individuals enough time to prepare. The CCC advises on the appropriate level of each carbon budget. Once accepted by Government, the respective budgets are legislated by Parliament. The budgets describe the cost-effective pathway to achieving the UK’s long-term climate change objectives. They also take into account a range of other factors including scientific knowledge, technology, economic and social circumstances, amongst others. Refer to our insight briefings for more information on our approach for setting carbon budgets.
All six carbon budgets have been put into law and run up to 2037. The UK is currently in the Fourth Carbon Budget period (2023 to 2027). Our mitigation Monitoring Framework sets out our approach for assessing progress against these targets. Refer to our latest progress report for our full assessment.
|Budget||Carbon budget level||Reduction below 1990 levels||Met?|
|1st Carbon Budget (2008 to 2012)||3,018 MtCO2e||26%||Yes|
|2nd Carbon Budget (2013 to 2017)||2,782 MtCO2e||32%||Yes|
|3rd Carbon Budget (2018 to 2022)||2,544 MtCO2e||38%||To be assessed in our 2024 Progress Report|
|4th Carbon Budget (2023 to 2027)||1,950 MtCO2e||52%||To be assessed in our 2029 Progress Report|
|Nationally Determined Contribution (2030)||–||68%||To be assessed in our 2032 Progress Report|
|5th Carbon Budget (2028 to 2032)||1,725 MtCO2e||58%||To be assessed in our 2034 Progress Report|
|6th Carbon Budget (2033 to 2037)*||965 MtCO2e||77%||To be assessed in our 2039 Progress Report|
|7th Carbon Budget (2038 to 2042)*||To be set in 2025||–||–|
|Net Zero Target||At least 100% by 2050|
* The 6th Carbon Budget, and subsequent budgets, include international aviation and shipping.