Bold goals are ineffective on their own. But Britain’s aggressive ambition to reduce carbon emissions is promising.
The UK government recently and radically revised its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to at least 68% less than 1990’s1 (598 million tons2). Last year it set a net zero target for 20503.
The announcement came four weeks before the UK will be outside the EU. Perhaps an attempt to distance itself in the right direction: The EU’s overall greenhouse emissions goal is a reduction on 1990 levels by 55%4, with some variations established by individual member countries; below5.
|Country||Target for Greenhouse Gas Emissions reduction; – 1990 levels|
|Sweden||40%||70% (transport emissions only)|| 85%+|
But is it just hot air? The UK, along with the rest of the EU, plus Russia and the United States of America have at least moved in the right direction since 1990, proving it’s possible for a growing economy to shrink its CO2 emmisions.
The six regions shown below comprise 50% of the worlds population and 62% of its GDP — as well as fossil fuel consumption.
Modified from EU JRC report10
Representations like this can vilify China, but the country has a huge population: Carbon dioxide emissions are 8.123 tons per capita. By that measure, still better that the United States’ 15.5 tons11 — for the present time, at least.
Of course, efforts towards realising such reductions is more important than hopeful goals. The UK made a significant step by divesting from overseas fossil fuels projects, following pressure from Greenpeace12.
1. UK sets ambitious new climate target ahead of UN Summit, UK Government, 2020-12-03
2. 1990-2013 greenhouse gas emissions: final figures – statistical release, UK Government, 2015-02-03
3. UK becomes first major economy to pass net zero emissions law, UK Government, 2019-06-27
4. (EU target revised on 11 December 2020 from 40% by 2030) EU Agrees to Slash Carbon Emissions by 2030, New York Times, 2020-12-11
5. Submission by Latvia and the European Commission on behalf of the European Union and its Member States (Represents Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, and United Kingdom), Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU, 2015-07-06
6. Iceland’s Climate Change Strategy, Ministry for the Environment, 2007-02
7. Denmark adopts climate law to cut emissions 70% by 2030, Climate Home News, 2019-12-06
8. Climate Action Tracker; Norway
9. Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions and climate targets, Clean Energy Wire, 2019-11-20
10. p. 4, Fossil CO2 emissions of all world countries, EC Joint Research Centre, 2020
11. pp. 70 & 229, Ibid
12. UK to stop funding overseas fossil fuel projects, Guardian, 2020-12-11
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