Countries and Regions

A central element of the UK Climate Change Act (2008) is a series of legally binding five-year ‘carbon budgets’ for allowable levels of economy-wide GHG emissions, which act as stepping stones towards the UK’s 2050 obligation to reduce emissions to Net Zero.


The Climate Change Committee (CCC – the UK’s independent expert adviser on climate change) recommends carbon budgets based on detailed scenarios for reducing emissions from each sector of the UK economy. These scenarios are designed to identify a cost-effective path to the 2050 target, including both near-term emissions reductions and the development of options for the longer term. Alongside this analytical work, the CCC undertakes extensive stakeholder engagement to ensure access to the best available evidence and to uncover potential objections before making its recommendations.


This briefing discusses the role of carbon budgets within the UK Climate Change Act and the approach used by the CCC to advise the UK Government on the appropriate level for UK carbon budgets.


This briefing is structured in four sections:

  1. The role of carbon budgets in the UK Climate Change Act
  2. Considerations in setting a carbon budget
  3. Determining a credible path for a low-carbon transition
  4. Evidence gathering and transparency in advising on the level of carbon budgets
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