On Tuesday 20th April, the UK government announced it will reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels in its sixth carbon budget – effective in law from June 2021. This suggests the UK will commit to the sharpest decline in greenhouse gas emissions of any major economy between 1990 and 2035, thus having one of the most ambitious carbon trajectories in the world to date. This builds on the UK’s current carbon commitment of reducing emissions in 2030 by at least 68% compared to 1990.
Businesses are considered major actors in driving the UK’s decarbonisation efforts. In particular, the private sector has an essential role in facilitating the net zero transition by:
- Decarbonising operations by taking up Low-carbon technologies or fuels
- Setting and updating internal climate policies
- Leveraging procurement
- Fostering climate-friendly innovation
- Setting international climate leadership within the business sector
- Drive employee/customer behavioural changes such as encouraging low carbon travel (with a travel plan) and promoting environmentally friendly dietary options
Following recommendations from the independent Climate Change Committee, the newly announced sixth carbon budget – which caps greenhouse gas emissions emitted between 2033 and 2037 – will take the UK over three-quarters of the way to achieving net zero by 2050. For the first time, this budget includes the UK’s share of shipping and aviation emissions which suggests the UK will remain on track to end its contribution to global climatic change and remain consistent in meeting the targets set out in the 2015 Paris Accord – limiting global warming to 1.5°C to 2°C.
For more business guidance following the UK Government’s announcement of the sixth carbon budget, see The Role of Business in Delivering the UK’s Net Zero Ambition by the Climate Change Committee here.