The recession is helping the UK to reduce emissions but we're still likely to miss carbon reduction goals for 2010, according to projections from Cambridge Econometrics.
The independent research group has forecast that CO2 emissions will fall by around 7 per cent between 2008 and 2010, largely driven by fall in energy demands from industry and road transport and the substitution of gas for coal in electricty generation.
But despite this fall, it says the Government's long-standing goal of reducing domestic emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2010 is likely to be, 'missed by a wide margin'.
The forecasts follow a similar report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) which said there needed to be a 'step change' in Government policy if it was to meet carbon reduction targets.
Targets in 2020
Cambridge Econometrics forecasts that the Government would also fall well short of its renewable electricity targets for 2020 and fail to meet the EU-set target of a 15 per cent of total energy consumption to be from renewable energy by 2020.
It forecast carbon emissions would decline by around 0.75 per cent each year between 2010-2020.
It said this would be driven by falls in emissions from upgraded coal-fired power stations but that this would be offset to an extent by continuing rapid growth in carbon emissions from air transport.
Professor Paul Ekins of UCL, a senior consultant to Cambridge Econometrics, said it was imperative for UK credibility that it now meet its targets for 2020.
'The Government is to be applauded for setting statutory carbon targets and budgets, but seems still to need to appreciate the difference between setting targets and achieving them,' he said.
Professor Ekins said the next Government (following the 2010 general election) would need to, 'urgently set out not only the details of its ambitious carbon-reduction policies, but also move swiftly to their implementation if it is to achieve the statutory goal of a 34 per cent reduction in GHGs by 2020.'
'The achievement of the 2020 target would make it more likely that the UK will be on track for its longer-term target of an 80 er cent reduction in emissions by 2050,' he added.
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