UK Government Policy & Targets
What is being done to deal with climate change and how is the adoption of renewable energy being encouraged?
Climate change targets & policies
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the over-arching framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle climate change. With 197 countries on board (including the UK), it enjoys near-universal membership.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European Union for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake take ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. The central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
What is the UK doing about climate change?
The UK Government has made the following commitments to fighting climate change:
- The UK government made history by being the first country to set itself a legally-binding target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050 via the Climate Change Act 2008.
- As a requirement of the Climate Change Act, and to strengthen the long-term policy framework and give UK industry the confidence to invest in low carbon technologies, in its 2009 Budget the UK government introduced the world’s first ‘carbon budget’, which sets a legally-binding 34% reduction in emissions by 2020.
Renewable energy targets
The development and widespread adoption of renewable energy is being encouraged by governments around the world via a variety of policies. With varying natural resources, different countries are emerging as market leaders in specific technologies.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has been set up to foster the growth of renewables around the world.
How is renewable energy being encouraged in the UK?
Renewable energy plays a big part in the UK Government’s targets for reducing CO2. In 2000 it set a target of 10% of electricity supply coming from renewable energy by 2010, and in 2006 it announced the aspiration to double that level by 2020.
Renewable energy policies
The Renewables Obligation (RO) was introduced by the UK government in 2002. It is seen as the main mechanism for encouraging the uptake of renewable technologies as it encourages licensed electricity suppliers to source a specific and annually increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable sources.
Under the Energy Act 2013, the RO is being replaced between 2014 and 2017 with Contracts for Difference (CfDs). Under this new support system for larger renewable energy developments, renewable generators will be guaranteed an agreed 'strike price' for the energy they produce. Each technology will have its own strike price. Techology such as onshore wind and solar PV are currently unable to access the CFD auctions to be held in 2017.
The percentage target of renewable electricity generation began at 3% in 2003. The level reached 10.4% in 2010/2011 and, in Decemeber 2016 accounted for around 24%.
For further details of UK energy policies, please visit the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy website.
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