Barry's calculation on the carbon budgets

Barry pressed the government on their recent decision to weaken the UK’s climate change targets.

In the House of Commons, Barry asked:

Assuming the Government will do the right thing and legislate for net zero by 2050, in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, why has the Minister decided to weaken the third carbon budget by carrying over surplus emissions from the second carbon budget, against the committee’s specific advice?

While the Minister is at the Dispatch Box, perhaps he will confirm that net zero can be achieved within the current cost envelope for an 80% reduction of 1% to 2% of GDP. The Chancellor’s claim of £1 trillion spuriously adds together all the costs over the next 21 years and fails to subtract any of the benefits or savings.

In response, the acting climate change minister Chris Skidmore MP said:

It is important to put on record the content of the Government’s letter to the Committee on Climate Change. After careful consideration of the committee’s advice, the Government decided to hold in reserve a small proportion of over performance from carbon budget 2—88 megatonnes of a total over performance of 384 megatonnes. The reserve will act solely as a contingency. [Interruption.] I have 384 megatonnes, but I will happily correct the record when I look at the statistics. Eighty-eight megatonnes are being held in reserve and act solely as a contingency against changes in the baseline. This will be released once it is clear that it will not be needed to address any technical changes to the baseline. We have also asked the Committee on Climate Change to look at those technical changes. We would not have asked the committee to take forward work on net zero if we did not believe we will be able to implement this.

When it comes to the cost reduction, I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that costs have come down on technology and will continue to come down. The Committee on Climate Change has made it clear that it can be done within the envelope of 1% to 2% of GDP, as set out for the 80% reduction.

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