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Carry-forward of surplus emissions: Letter from Lord Deben to Claire Perry

This is a letter from CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, to the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry MP, about the carry-forward of ‘surplus emissions’ from the UK’s second carbon budget (2013-2017).

The second carbon budget was met with emissions of 384 MtCO2e (14%) below the level of the budget. The letter concludes that any carry-forward of the surplus would undermine the integrity of the UK’s framework for emissions reduction under the Climate Change Act, because:

  • The carbon budgets were set by Government, on the advice of the Committee. The CCC’s advice was provided on the basis that there would be no carry-forward.
  • The surplus in the second carbon budget 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.
  • Existing carbon budgets are already too loose compared with the cost-effective path for UK emissions reduction, mainly due to downward revisions to emissions projections that do not reflect policy achievements. Carrying forward surplus emissions would further loosen carbon budgets, leading to unnecessary costs and further difficulties in meeting the long-term emissions target in 2050.

The letter states that the aim should be to meet and outperform carbon budgets through actions to reduce emissions, rather than relying on statistical revisions which can go both up and down.