U.K. Set to Overachieve Carbon-Dioxide Goals by 293 Million Tons

The U.K. expects to exceed carbon-reduction targets through 2022 by almost 300 million tons, Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said. That’s a saving of about half a year’s emissions at current levels.

Answering questions from lawmakers in Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, Barker said his department projects the nation will produce less carbon than stipulated in its first three so-called carbon budgets, by 90 million tons, 132 million tons and 71 million tons respectively. The “budgets” set caps for successive 5-year periods through 2022.

“There is a gap to fill in the fourth carbon budget period,” Barker said today. “That simply reflects the reality that 2023-2027 is still a fair time in the future and we have not set out a detailed policy that far ahead.”

The budgets are set to ensure the U.K. meets a self-imposed legally binding target to cut greenhouse gases 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. The government’s own adviser on climate policy, the Committee on Climate Change, warned in a report last month that Britain must step up the pace of carbon cuts or risk a “big gap” between targets and emissions.

Barker said today he would respond in full to the committee’s report in October.

The U.K. emitted 2,915 megatons of carbon dioxide for the five years through 2012, the Committee on Climate Change said last month, citing preliminary data. That works out at 583 megatons a year and compares with the budgetary cap of 3,018 megatons.

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