The government’s own emission projections puts the UK on course to miss its legally binding carbon budgets, such that by 2032 it will overrun them by 10 percent. This was the news from BEIS’s energy and emissions projections, but also tucked away in the annexes was the amount of new capacity the government forecasts under different scenarios.

While we already know that hefty volumes of new renewable electricity capacity is required to meet our carbon targets, it’s interesting to see the government’s own figures. Digging deeper into the publications, Annex K forecasts that 94 GW of new electrical capacity is required by 2035 under the ‘reference scenario’.

This ‘reference scenario’ is the main scenario used by BEIS in their energy and emission projections, and is based on central assumptions of fuel prices, GDP and population. It also “includes assumptions that go beyond current government policy and is therefore illustrative”, and falls foul of its carbon budget.

April Graphic

Regen’s graphic of the month illustrates the reference scenario’s cumulative new capacity to 2035, including 42 GW of renewables, 12 GW of nuclear, 8 GW of storage and 9 GW of natural gas. The likelihood of this capacity being built is a topic to explore another time, though this amount of nuclear is particularly unlikely. And just to be clear, this is new capacity, so excludes repowers, and misses our carbon budgets!

But there is still time to address the shortfall. The carbon budgets that are forecast to be missed are the fourth and fifth, which run from 2023- 2027 and 2028- 2032 respectively, leaving ample opportunity to implement new polices and strategies.

Regen is, therefore, looking forward to this Thursday’s anticipated CCC advice to the UK government and the devolved administrations on the UK’s long-term climate change targets. It is expected that this publication will call for a net zero 2050 target, adding to the growing pressure from cross party groups of MPs, the climate emergency movement and recent London protesters.

In addition, we hope that an upcoming government white paper on energy will provide clarity of how the UK’s carbon budgets will be met and introduce policies or strategies to bring forward vital investment in energy infrastructure.

Unless policies are brought forward to support renewable energy investment in the UK, we will miss our carbon budgets by increasing margins. As 16 year old Greta Thunberg points out, “there is simply not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge”.

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