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Climate-Change Policy in the United Kingdom

Author

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  • Alex Bowen

    (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment)

  • James Rydge

    (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment)

Abstract

The United Kingdom started to pursue policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a relatively early date and now has a comprehensive set of measures in place. It has set clear targets for emission reductions consistent with international goals of limiting global warming and has pioneered statutory underpinning of target-setting. On the international stage, it has been an active protagonist of a global deal to limit human-induced climate change. The new Government has endorsed the direction of previous policies in this area and is introducing further measures, despite heavy fiscal pressures. The United Kingdom is likely to reduce emissions by more than its near-term domestic targets and its target under the Kyoto Protocol, outperforming many OECD countries in the latter respect. But some of the success has been due to ‘one-off’ factors such as the ‘dash for gas’, reductions in non-CO2 greenhouse gases in the 1990s and the recent recession, rather than explicit climate-change policies. The pace of decarbonisation of the power sector has been slow and the spread of renewable energy technologies limited. Implicit carbon prices vary across sectors, and should be harmonized to increase the cost efficiency of policy. The unevenness partly reflects the way in which policies have proliferated and overlap and a simplified structure would be desirable. A step–change in the pace of emission reductions is required to put the UK on the path towards its ambitious 2050 target. Given the central role of the EU emissions trading scheme, a key element of the UK strategy should be to seek tighter quotas within the EU scheme. Preparations to adapt to climate impacts also need to be stepped up, focusing on the provision of more information, better risk-assessment frameworks and more advanced metrics for monitoring and evaluation of adaptation planning. This paper relates to the 2011 Economic Survey of the United Kingdom (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/uk) La politique climatique au Royaume-Uni Le Royaume-Uni, qui a entrepris d’adopter des mesures de réduction des émissions de gaz à effet de serre à une date relativement précoce, met aujourd’hui en oeuvre une panoplie complète de mesures. Il s’est fixé des objectifs précis de réduction des émissions, cohérents avec les objectifs internationaux de limitation du réchauffement planétaire, et a fait oeuvre de précurseur en les adossant à un socle réglementaire. Sur la scène internationale, il a joué un rôle actif en faveur d’un accord mondial visant à limiter le changement climatique d’origine anthropique. Le nouveau gouvernement a repris à son compte les orientations des politiques antérieures dans ce domaine et il introduit actuellement de nouvelles mesures, malgré la rigueur des contraintes budgétaires. Le Royaume-Uni devrait atteindre un taux de réduction de ses émissions supérieur à celui de ses objectifs nationaux à court terme et de son objectif au titre du Protocole de Kyoto, et même dépasser nombre de pays de l’OCDE quant à la réalisation de ce dernier objectif. Mais une partie de ce succès s’explique, non par des mesures explicites de politique climatique, mais par des facteurs ponctuels comme la « ruée vers le gaz » et les réductions des émissions d’autres gaz à effet de serre que le CO2 dans les années 90 et la récession récente. Le rythme de décarbonisation du secteur de l’électricité a été lent et la diffusion des technologies des énergies renouvelables est encore limitée. Les prix implicites du carbone varient selon les secteurs et devraient être harmonisés pour une meilleure efficacité économique. Ces disparités reflètent la prolifération des mesures et leur chevauchement et il serait nécessaire d’en simplifier la structure. Un changement radical dans le rythme de réduction des émissions est nécessaire pour engager le Royaume-Uni sur la voie de la réalisation de l’objectif ambitieux qu’il s’est fixé à l’horizon 2050. Étant donné le rôle central du système communautaire d’échange de quotas d’émission, la stratégie du Royaume-Uni devrait en particulier viser l’adoption de quotas plus rigoureux dans le cadre du système communautaire. Les efforts d’adaptation aux impacts climatiques doivent aussi être renforcés, en s’attachant à développer l’information, à améliorer les cadres d’évaluation des risques, et à affiner les outils de mesure utilisés pour le suivi et l’évaluation de la planification des mesures d’adaptation. Ce document se rapporte à l’Étude économique du Royaume-Uni 2011 (www.oecd.org/eco/etudes/uk)

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Bowen & James Rydge, 2011. "Climate-Change Policy in the United Kingdom," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 886, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:886-en
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kg6qdx6b5q6-en
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    Cited by:

    1. Abu-Bakar, Siti Hawa & Muhammad-Sukki, Firdaus & Ramirez-Iniguez, Roberto & Mallick, Tapas Kumar & McLennan, Campbell & Munir, Abu Bakar & Mohd Yasin, Siti Hajar & Abdul Rahim, Ruzairi, 2013. "Is Renewable Heat Incentive the future?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 365-378.
    2. McGregor, Peter G. & Kim Swales, J. & Winning, Matthew A., 2012. "A review of the role and remit of the committee on climate change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 466-473.
    3. Raphael Calel, 2018. "Adopt or Innovate: Understanding Technological Responses to Cap-and-Trade," CESifo Working Paper Series 6847, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    adaptation; adaptation; atténuation; chevauchement des politiques; climate change policy; interactions des politiques; mitigation; policy interaction; policy overlap; politique des énergies renouvelables; politique du changement climatique; renewable energy policy;

    JEL classification:

    • Q27 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Issues in International Trade
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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