UCL Energy Institute


UK to fail to meet Paris Agreement unless emissions more rapidly cut, research suggests

7 March 2017

The UK is set to fail to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate objectives unless Government cuts emissions far more rapidly than currently planned, UCL research published today suggests.

Paris Agreement research

The research, published in Nature Energy, urges Government to make climate policy more ambitious and consider a net-zero greenhouse emissions target soon after 2050.

The paper reveals a gap between the aspirations of national climate policy and the global goals of the Paris Agreement, which the UK signed in December 2015.

The UCL Energy Institute research recommends that if the UK is to make its fair contribution to tackling climate change, this ambition gap must be closed by bolstering domestic climate targets to mandate a net-zero emissions energy system by 2070 and, prior to that, cutting emissions more rapidly than currently planned.

A long-term net-zero target is essential to guide planning decisions going forward on, for instance, how homes are heated, transport is provided and electricity is generated, to avoid investing into carbon emitting infrastructure that ultimately becomes stranded.

Steve Pye, senior researcher at the UCL Energy Institute, said:

“With the Government’s Emission Reduction Plan to be published in the coming months, a reframing of targets to strengthen ambition and establish a net-zero target by 2070 merit consideration. This would bring clarity to the ultimate long term objective of an ‘emission-free’ energy system, and help ensure that all strategic investments in infrastructure reflected this ambition.”

Notes to Editors

  1. View ‘Achieving net-zero emissions through the reframing of UK national targets in the post-Paris Agreement era’, published today in Nature Energy
  2. For media enquiries please contact Alex Blackburn on a.blackburn@ucl.ac.uk or 0203 108 9860