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British policies short climate efforts

British climate panel warnings follow reports of progress in the United States.

By Daniel J. Graeber
British policies short climate efforts
British climate panel finds policies fall short of what's needed to meet the government's own goals. Photo by akiyoko/Shutterstock.

LONDON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- The British government needs a new set of guidelines to address shortfalls in policies in place to cut emissions, a government committee on climate change said.

Britain under its Climate Change Act committed to cutting emissions by 80 percent of the benchmark level from 1990 by 2050. The British Committee on Climate Change said emissions are now 38 percent below 1990 levels even as the economy grew by 60 percent since then.

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John Gummer, the chairman of the committee, said the British government's support for last year's Paris climate agreement and steadfast support for low-carbon initiatives deserves credit, though ignoring things like drafty homes and heating systems means the targets could be out of reach.

"Action is needed now to ensure the U.K. can deliver its climate obligations at least cost," he said in a statement.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May in September pledged to ratify the Paris climate agreement. European ministers signed off on the arrangement last month and, since British voters decided to leave the European Union, the committee's report said the government needed to at least replicate standing climate arrangements in place with its EU partners.

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"As they stand today, existing policies would at best deliver around half of the required emissions reduction to 2030," the report said.

The warning follows a report Wednesday from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, declined in the U.S. power sector to their lowest levels in a quarter century.

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The EIA attributed the decline to a move in the power sector away from coal and toward natural gas, along with a gradual embrace of renewable resources like wind and solar power. Marty Durbin with the American Petroleum Institute praised the data as a sign of an evolving energy industry.

"The increased use of natural gas has reduced carbon emissions, lowered costs to American consumers, and increased our nation's manufacturing competitiveness," he said in a statement.

Data show the transportation sector still accounts for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

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