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Recognizing the urgency to go further to tackle climate change, the UK continues to strengthen its climate policies, presenting ambitious new commitments and concrete plans to confront the climate crisis.

The UK most recently demonstrated its international climate leadership as host of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass a net-zero emissions law requiring it to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), submitted in 2020, commits to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 68% by 2030.

The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, announced in 2020, sets out the approach to meeting the UK’s ambitious climate targets, including £12 billion in government investment to increase ambition in areas such as clean energy, zero emission vehicles, public transportation, and greener buildings. Among the announced actions is a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, ten years earlier than originally scheduled in the 2018 Road to Zero Strategy.

“Tackling climate change is the one of the most urgent shared endeavours of our lifetimes, demanding bold action from every nation to prevent catastrophic global warming,” said COP26 President and Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma. “As a country, we have demonstrated we can both rapidly cut carbon emissions, while creating new jobs, new technologies and future-proof industries that will generate economic growth for decades to come.

Efforts to reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions, including commitments made through the CCAC, will significantly contribute to reaching the UK’s climate targets. The UK supports the CCAC’s Global Green Freight Action Plan and Efficient Cooling initiative. It is also a member of the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership Steering Group and has signed the CCAC’s Ministerial Statement for “Accelerating Cost-Effective Reductions of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants from Global Oil and Natural Gas Operations.” So far, the UK is on track to achieve its Third Carbon Budget target ending in 2022, due largely to emissions reductions in their Oil and Gas sector.

As one of the first countries to ratify the Kigali Amendment, the UK followed suit by endorsing the Biarritz Pledge to quickly improve energy efficiency in the cooling sector.

In 2016, the UK endorsed the CCAC’s Marrakech Communiqué, in which partners commit to reduce black carbon emissions through cleaner diesel fuels and vehicles and develop black carbon inventories and projections. The UK is also cutting down on black carbon emissions by phasing out bagged coal, loose coal and wet wood and decommissioning unabated coal plants by 2023.

Working alongside industry partners in the agricultural sector, the UK formulated the 2016 Greenhouse Gas Action Plan. The Action Plan commits to an 11% reduction in methane and other greenhouse emissions by 2020 with mitigation actions across the entire agriculture sector.

The UK government supports developing countries to respond to the challenges and opportunities of climate change as one of the world’s leading providers of climate finance. In 2008, it joined 13 other countries to establish the Climate Investment Funds. The UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for International Development (DFID) have contributed approximately £2 billion since 2008.

Read more about the UK’s action on climate below. 

CCAC activities

Workstream | Efficient Cooling
Ongoing
A main objective of the Efficient Cooling Initiative is help deliver on the levers identified in the Biarritz Pledge for Fast Action on Efficient Cooling , launched at the G7 Summit in 2019. The...
air-conditioners
Activity | Health
Ongoing
BreatheLife is a global campaign that mobilizes cities and individuals to take action on air pollution to protect our health and the planet. The campaign is led by the World Health Organization (WHO...
BreatheLife

Other activities

Agriculture

  • 2015-2018 – Beef Feed Efficiency programme put in place to research and collect data on feed efficiency and genetic analysis of cattle which is expected to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by up to 22%.
  • 2020 – UK biomethane production via anaerobic digestion to increase with the introduction of the Green Gas Support Scheme from 2021 to 2026.
  • The UK is a member of the Global Research Alliance, working with the Croplands Research Group, Livestock Research Group, and the Inventory and Monitoring Cross Cutting Group.
  • The UK-China Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) Partnership helps promote sustainable agricultural practices and is expected to assist in the reduction of methane emissions.

Transportation

  • 2020 – Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2) announced to span from 2020 to 2025 and includes a  £345 million Environment and Wellbeing fund to invest in measures to improve environmental outcomes, including on air quality, biodiversity, flood risk, and retrofitting existing roads with modern environmental standards and green infrastructure solutions.
  • 2018 – Department of Transport added an additional 40 million GBP to the 100 million GBP fund to support low emission buses and the Clean Bus Technology Fund.  
  • 2020 - Plug In Car Grants are extended until 2022-2023 to incentivize the purchase of electric vehicles.
  • 2014 – Heavy goods vehicles above 12 tonnes gross weight are required to pay a HGV Road Used Levy where vehicles that don’t meet the Euro VI emissions standards will pay 20% more, and vehicles that do meet the Euro VI standards will pay 10% less.  
  • 2018 – The Transforming Cities Fund is created to address congestion and improve public transport connectivity in major cities.
  • 2017 – Between 2019 and 2024 the UK government has allocated 48 billion GBP towards upgrading the railway network, including projects such as the Great North Rail Project and the Thameslink Programme.

HFCs

  • The UK are continuing to use the same schedule as the EU in phasing down HFC consumption by 79% by 2030 compared to a baseline level calculated between 2009 and 2012.
  • Defra have started a review of the Great Britain F-gas Regulation that is due to be completed by no later than 2022. It will be used to assess how we can go even further, with a focus on what additional reductions  to the use and emissions of HFCs and other fluorinated greenhouse gases can be made to help the UK meet net zero in 2050. 
  • 2021 - During the UK's G7 presidency, Climate and Environment Ministers affirmed the importance of phasing down HFCs and ratifying the Kigali Amendment in the Ministers' Communiqué.

Climate Finance

  • The UK government pledged to provide 5.8 billion GBP in International Climate Finance towards climate action from 2016 to 2021. Moving forward the UK announced that they would double this amount to 11.6 billion GBP between 2021 and 2026. The UK is also directly providing funds to countries to aid the implementation of NDC strategies through the UK PACT which operates within the ICF.

Health-Climate-Air quality

  • The UK supports the World Bank’s Pollution Management and Environmental Health Program via the Department for International Development and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in collaboration with Germany and Norway.
  • The city of London is a partner of the BreatheLife campaign. As a part of their efforts to meet the WHO air quality guidelines, they have implemented an ultra-low emissions zone in the city center which helped reduce roadside emissions by 44%.

Partnerships
   

  • The UK partnered with the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) programme which has involved them with the measuring of important atmospheric gas species that pertain to the Montreal Protocol and nearly all significant non-CO2 gases in the Kyoto Protocol to mitigate climate change.
  • The UK has been a member of the Global Methane Initiative since 2004 and has several GMI project sites across the country to help reduce methane emission and use them as a renewable energy source. 

Related resources

2020 | Reports, Case Studies & Assessments
, CBI Economics

'Breathing life into the UK economy' is a report from CBI Economics, commissioned by the Clean Air Fund, which quantifies the economic benefit to the UK of meeting WHO Air Quality guidelines.

Breathing life into the UK economy

Address

Ministry of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Area 8D, 9 Millbank, c/o Nobel House, 17 Smith Square
London SW1P3JR
United Kingdom
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