The majority of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions arise from our production and consumption of energy – whether that’s driving cars, manufacturing goods or simply boiling a kettle. Emissions can be lowered by becoming energy efficient and by switching to low-carbon fuels. Both will be necessary to meet UK carbon targets, along with action to tackle non-energy emissions.
Being energy efficient doesn’t mean going without a warm and well-lit home or making big sacrifices. Many energy efficiency measures are low cost and even save money. Whether on a large-scale, or at the individual level, there are many opportunities to save energy through better insulation, more efficient boilers and appliances, using heating controls and lights more efficiently.
Switching to low-carbon fuels
But even the most efficient modern economy will need to contend with significant energy demand. So it’s essential to progress towards an energy system based on fuels with low, or no-carbon, content (de-carbonisation). This means moving away from using conventional coal and gas-fired power to electricity generated from nuclear power, renewable sources, and new technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
How the UK is progressing
The CCC undertakes an annual assessment of whether the UK is on course to meet its carbon budgets, and reports this progress to Parliament. In 2016, UK greenhouse gas emissions were 42% lower than in 1990, around half way to the UK’s 2050 commitment to reduce emissions by at least 80% (on 1990 levels).
Carbon budgets: how we monitor emissions targets
The Climate Change Act established a target for the UK to significantly reduce its emissions by 2050. To ensure that regular progress is made the Act also established a system of five-yearly carbon budgets to serve as stepping stones on the way.