In December 2020, the UK submitted its NDC target of at least a 68% reduction in domestic emissions from 1990 levels by 2030, a significant improvement compared to its previous domestic emission reduction target of 57% below 1990 levels by 2030. This target would put the country on a domestic action pathway that is 1.5°C compatible. Furthermore, on April 20 the UK announced its goal to cut its emissions by 78% by 2035 below 1990 levels, including for the first-time international shipping and aviation emissions.
A fair share contribution to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions compatible with the Paris Agreement would require the UK to go further than its domestic target, and provide substantial support for emission reductions to developing countries on top of its domestic reductions.
In 2019, the UK amended its Climate Change Act to update its 2050 GHG emissions target from an 80% reduction below 1990 levels to net zero GHG by 2050. While the country does not provide details on the level of sinks it aims at to balance the remaining positive emissions, the net zero emission scenarios provided by the Climate Change Commission indicate a projected LULUCF sink of between -12 to -38 MtCO₂e by 2050.
Paris Agreement compatible net zero pathways show that 2050 emissions should reach around -17 to 56 MtCO₂e, excluding LULUCF but including BECCS. Remaining positive emissions will need to be balanced with carbon dioxide removal approaches.,, While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries such as the UK, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier.
Most 1.5°C compatible scenarios analysed in our study show renewable energy in primary energy demand reaching three to four times its 2017 levels by 2050.