Climate change UK: what are UK’s targets to cut carbon emissions - and how do they compare to other countries?

Boris Johnson has said we need to “get serious” about tackling climate change

Climate change UK: what are UK’s targets to cut carbon emissions - and how do they compare to other countries? (Photo by Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The government has announced a new climate target which will be among the most ambitious in the world.

The UK will aim to reduce its carbon emissions by 78 per cent on 1990 levels by 2035, with the target enshrined in law.

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The move has been welcomed by climate experts, although campaigners have pointed out that previous targets have not been met.

How will this target be met?

campaigners have said that detailed proposals on how this target will be achieved are needed, including funding commitments from the treasury.

In order to meet the new target the UK will need to radically alter the way that transport in the country works, invest substantially in renewable energy and embark on a major home-insulation project.

The target will also necessitate some significant lifestyle changes for much of the population, including a shift away from meat and dairy products, a reduction in aviation and more people cycling or walking instead of driving.

Labour’s shadow business secretary, Ed Miliband, said: "The character of this government on climate change is now clear: targets without delivery.

"So while any strengthening of our targets is the right thing to do, the government can't be trusted to match rhetoric with reality."

He added: "We need a government that treats the climate emergency as the emergency it is. That means greater ambition than this government matched with much more decisive action."

What targets have other nations set?

The overall goal of the Paris Agreement was to prevent a global temperature rise of 2C above pre-industrial levels, or ideally 1.5C, so as to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

The European Union recently announced a new climate law which includes a goal to cut emissions by 55 per cent by 2030.

The US is expected to announce a new target at a summit called by president Joe Biden, to cut emissions by 41 per cent by 2030, as part of its national climate plan.

This would be almost double the existing target, but is seen as a necessary step by campaigners and experts, due to the countries failure to prioritise lowering emissions during Donald Trump’s time in office.

Other nations are expected to announce improved climate targets, including Japan and Canada, as well as nations which have so far failed to live up to the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, such as India, Russia and Australia.

Johnson: We must get serious about climate change

Johnson will speak at the two-day summit, where he is expected to say: “The UK has shown that it’s possible to slash emissions while growing the economy, which makes the question of reaching net zero not so much technical as political.

“If we actually want to stop climate change, then this must be the year in which we get serious about doing so.

“Because the 2020s will be remembered either as the decade in which world leaders united to turn the tide, or as a failure.”

Biden will host the virtual conference ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year, where world leaders will come together in person to discuss the climate crisis for the first time since the Paris agreement was signed.Since then, experts have warned that the targets set then will not be enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and called for more ambitious targets, with detailed plans on how they will be achieved.