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Exclusive: Government Set To Announce Ambitious Carbon Emission Reduction Target For Power Sector By 2035

Exclusive: Government Set To Announce Ambitious Carbon Emission Reduction Target For Power Sector By 2035
3 min read

Sector-specific carbon emission reduction targets for the year 2035 – which will be announced by the government in its Net Zero strategy this week – are set to be far more ambitious for the power sector than others, including transport and heat and buildings.

In a major publication outlining the UK’s strategy for achieving net zero, due to be published next week ahead of November’s COP26 summit, the government is expected to clarify carbon reduction expectations in sectors including power, industry, transport, fuel supply and hydrogen.

Energy sector sources have told PoliticsHome the following reductions for 2035 are expected to be announced:

  • Power: 80 – 85% reduction in carbon emissions
  • Natural resources, waste and fluorinated gases: 39 – 51% reduction in carbon emissions
  • Fuel supply and hydrogen: 53 – 60% reduction in carbon emissions
  • Transport: 47 – 59% reduction in carbon emissions
  • Industry: 63 – 76% reduction in carbon emissions
  • Heat and buildings: 47 – 62% reduction in carbon emissions

The government has previously announced major climate commitments, including achieving net zero by 2050 and reducing emissions overall by 78% in 2035 when compared to 1990 levels.

However, this is the first time a sector-by-sector breakdown setting specific emission reduction targets has been publicised.

The expectation for the power sector to reduce emissions by 80 – 85% is particularly important, as earlier this month the government committed to completely decarbonising the power system by 2035.

The 47 – 62% target for heat and buildings could be perceived as relatively low, but an expert in the sector told PoliticsHome the figure reflects the level of behavioural change needed among consumers, the need to transform millions of homes across the UK, and the fact that the government has been unable to agree on the Heat and Buildings Strategy, which has been delayed since the spring.

“The government's hopes of being viewed as a climate leader when it hosts COP26 in November are poised to a large extent on the reception to its long-awaited Net Zero Strategy,” Michael Thorogood, Political Consultant for Energy, Utilities and Climate at Dods Group told PoliticsHome.

“Having described its own carbon emission reduction targets as the most ambitious in the world, the government have been criticised for failing to explain how its interim targets on net zero will be achieved. While some detail is forthcoming, the announcement of a transitionary route for major UK sectors will be welcomed by stakeholders, enabling more targeted policy development and longer-term planning for industry, which could encourage greater investment in lower carbon technologies.”

Alongside announcing sector emissions reduction targets, PoliticsHome has also learnt that next week the government is expected to recognise the role of engineered greenhouse gas removal projects.

According to sector sources, government will commit to funding engineering-based approaches to removing greenhouse gases. It is hoped this will address residual emissions from sectors unlikely to fully decarbonise by 2050.

“While interim targets provide a crucial roadmap, they will need to be underpinned by clear market signals to encourage private sector investment and behavioural change,” Thorogood told PoliticsHome.

“Stakeholders will be hoping that the government have also devised a clear strategy for public engagement, as well as recognition of the crucial role of greenhouse gas removal technologies to support harder-to-decarbonise sectors in achieving net zero.

“Despite their importance in keeping the Sixth Carbon Budget within reach, these are areas where the government has previously been criticised for making little progress.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We will publish a comprehensive Net Zero Strategy ahead of COP26, setting out the Government’s vision for transitioning to a net zero economy.”

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