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With the UK still struggling out of recession and with little good coming of the much heralded Copenhagen climate change summit, brighter news has presented itself in the recent report that the UK has over achieved on its carbon emission reduction targets.

Set by the Conservative government back in 1990, the original reduction target was to be 34% by 2020, however, recent findings suggest that this reduction will now be something nearer 36%, with a number of factors helping to reduce carbon emissions across the UK. The report, carried out by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and released in October is already sparking debate as to whether the government is doing enough to fight climate change through carbon reduction policies.

Government action

While the government has announced that it will not go ahead with the construction of any coal power stations employing carbon capture and storage, many believe that not enough is being done to bring about a wholesale change in the way Britain produces its energy.

However, despite surging ahead with non-renewable energy programs, it would be difficult to argue that ministers in Westminster have turned a blind eye to the potential of green energy. Indeed, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has already overseen the devlopment of some of the largest off-shore wind farms in Europe.

The Clean Energy Cash Back Scheme (essentially a feed-in tariff) similarly represents a commitment to reduce carbon emissions through legislation. The DECC is already publishing papers on the future landscape of the UK power infrastructure with a grid capable of connecting various micro-generation sites across the country.

The recession factor

With the world financial crisis manifesting itself in the UK in the form of a protracted recession, this has of course had an effect on energy use with the population using less energy and therefore generating less carbon. Critics of the reports findings have highlighted that some of the carbon reduction percentiles can be accounted for by the economy and any imminent up-turn could similarly skew the figures.

In response to such assertions, Ed Milliband, minister for the DECC stated that,

“The recession will not deflect the Government’s efforts to cut emissions and move to a low carbon economy. We must redouble our efforts at home and internationally.”

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