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Letter: Advice on the Third Carbon Budget carry-over

1. Outline

This is a letter from Professor Piers Forster, Interim Chair of the Climate Change Committee to the Rt Hon Graham Stuart MP, providing advice on the Third Carbon Budget and whether any resulting surplus emissions reduction should be carried forward to meet future carbon budgets.

2. Key messages

  • The UK’s Third Carbon Budget, covering the period 2018 to 2022, was successfully met with emissions 391 MtCO2e and 15% below the level of the budget (2,544 MtCO2e).
  • Future carbon budgets will require an increase in the pace and breadth of decarbonisation. It is essential that an ambitious path of emissions reduction is maintained towards Net Zero. The Committee’s unequivocal advice is that surplus emissions from the Third Carbon Budget should not be carried forward.
  • Carry-forward of the full Third Carbon Budget surplus would put the 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and the Sixth Carbon Budget at very serious risk, permitting an increase in emissions between the Third and Fourth Carbon Budget periods.
  • We need to build on our success to date by accelerating, not slowing down, emissions reductions in all sectors outside electricity supply.
  • The carbon budgets were set by the Government on the advice of the Committee; this advice was provided on the basis that there would be no carry-forward. The aim should be to meet and outperform carbon budgets through actions to reduce emissions.
  • A carry-forward is also inconsistent with the UK’s international commitment to accelerate efforts made as part of the Global Stocktake and Paris Agreement.