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Carbon cuts in the UK

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Wednesday, 07 July 2010 15:01

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Senior research associate John Barrett explains how we can acheive sustainable development through improved production efficiency and change of product demand.

Insights derived from SEI research prompt UK policy shift on carbon reduction.

Recent sei research has changed perspectives and policy on carbon management in the UK Government. The UK Climate Change Act has created political momentum to bring about effective climate mitigation strategies, and SEI has helped organisations like the UK National Health Service understand that reducing emissions is not merely about addressing direct emissions but extends to the impacts of their activities right up the supply chain.

The NHS asked SEI to develop a comprehensive understanding of the carbon footprint of the NHS in England. The analysis formed the evidence base for the NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy, which sets ambitious carbon reduction targets needed to progress towards the Climate Change Act requirements.

UK’s GHG emissions
SEI calculated the carbon footprint of the NHS, identified and explored the impact of key supply chains and evaluated the potential carbon savings of different policy options.

We have undertaken further research for the UK Government to determine the drivers behind the UK’s GHG emissions. This work clearly shows that technology can only play a limited role in achieving substantial reductions, and that a policy package that fails to deal in some way with the ever growing demand for goods and services will not secure a 2˚C pathway.

SEI research has also been used to prepare the world-leading 2009 Scottish Climate Change Act, which commits to 42% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Creating an ecological footprint indicator
In particular our work contributed to provisions on consumer emissions, where it has led to the creation of an ecological footprint indicator. The Act also requires that Scottish ministers now report to Parliament every year on emissions associated with the consumption of goods and services.

Most recently, legislation has been tabled in the House of Lords that would put in place a UK consumer emissions target. The proposal for legislation specifically refers to the research conducted by SEI for the UK Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

This builds upon the intention, set out in the UK Sustainable Development Strategy, to reduce the global environmental impacts from production and consumption.
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