United Kingdom United Kingdom

The United Kingdom remains in the top 10, though it drops two places, to 7th, from last year’s CCPI.

The UK receives high ratings in three CCPI categories – GHG Emissions, Energy Use, and Climate Policy – though its rating for Renewable Energy falls from high last year to medium this year.

The CCPI experts still regard the UK as a leading country for climate policy, despite its slight downgrade in the rankings. The country has substantial political and financial support to deliver its net zero 2050 target and the new interim target for a net zero power system by 2035, and to ensure that progress is made at this year’s rescheduled COP26. The government has also created policies to support development of hydrogen, carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), carbon removal, and greater take-up of electric vehicles. The UK is rated high for the trend in renewable energy share, primarily owing to its offshore wind sector and phasing out of coal-fired power generation, with its power sector decarbonisation accounting for most of the emissions reductions in the economy.

Despite the above, policy efforts are still needed to ensure total energy use and the share of renewable energy become aligned with a well-below-2°C trajectory, and to be sure that overall GHG emissions per capita are reduced. Although the government has announced support schemes for take-up of low-carbon heating and a future phasing out of fossil fuel heating, policies on energy efficiency are lacking and the heating sector remains a considerable source of carbon emissions. The UK, following its exit from the European Union, has created its own ETS, based on the EU ETS but with a lower cap for total emissions. Whether the UK ETS will be linked to the EU ETS has yet to be confirmed. Using carbon credits to achieve the net zero target is also problematic, along with insufficient consideration of offshored emissions in supply chains, and continued subsidies for fossil production. The experts highlight a farm subsidy reform, which has yet to be published in a policy but has the potential to restore nature and sequester carbon with land.

The following national experts agreed to be mentioned as contributors for this year’s CCPI: Caterina Brandmayr (Green Alliance);  Christoph v. Friedeburg (CF Energy Research & Consulting UG)

Technical note: how to read the target comparison graph

The graph above shows the development of a country over the past years compared with its Paris compatible pathway and 2030 target. For all three quantitative categories of the CCPI, this visualisation gives an overview of where a country is right now, where it would need to be to fulfil the Paris Agreement promises and where it aims to be in 2030.

For GHG emissions per capita, the data includes LULUCF, as used for the emissions per capita indicator. This leads to the vast changes in emissions of some countries with high forest coverage.
The calculation of individual country target pathways is based on the common but differentiated convergence approach (CDC). It is based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” laid forth in the Framework Convention on Climate Change. All Annex I countries therefore have a decreasing pathway from 1990 onwards, starting at that year’s emissions. 60 years later, in 2050, these countries are expected to reach net zero emissions. All other countries, which did not reach the level of global average emissions in 1990, are allowed to increase emissions until the average is reached. But by latest 2015 these countries, too, have decreasing pathways and 60 years to reach net zero. These pathways start from the global average.

The Renewable Energy data is given in per cent of Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) and includes hydro energy, consistent with the respective CCPI indicator. As global distribution of Renewables (especially solar and wind) only started in the 2000s, the pathways in this category start in 2010. All countries have an equal goal: 100% Renewables in 2050, each starting from its 2010 value.

For Energy Use the Primary Energy Supply per capita is shown. All pathways for this category start at country’s 1990 values and meet at global average of 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.
For 2°C and 1.5°C scenarios, a decrease in emissions by reducing the (growth in) energy use is as crucial as deploying renewable (or other low-carbon) technologies. The IPCC carried out a scenario comparison using a large number of integrated assessment models. From the scenarios available, we observe that the total amount of global energy use in 2050 has to be roughly the same level or a bit higher than it is today, with a margin of uncertainty. At the same time population will grow slightly between today and 2050. We therefore pragmatically chose the well-below-2° compatible benchmark to be “same energy use per capita in 2050 as the current global average”, which is 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.