The UK remains on track to almost double its greenhouse gas reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, a new report to the United Nations released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has revealed.
As communities across the globe marked United Nations World Environment Day last week, the report shows that UK greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be about 23% below 1990 levels by 2010 - well in excess of the target of 12.5% set out under the Kyoto agreement.
The report highlights the importance of international agreements in reducing carbon emissions, and comes as the world prepares to gather in Copenhagen at the end of this year to reach an historic deal on climate change action. It also comes as officials meet at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn this week, to begin negotiations for the deal, which will replace the current Kyoto agreement.
Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock will discuss the report at the Cheltenham Science Festival today, where she will take part in a debate on "Climate Change: whose responsibility?" with the head of the Sustainable Development Commission, Jonathon Porritt.
Joan Ruddock said: "Our latest report to the UN shows what can be achieved when Government, communities and business work together to reduce emissions. We already have significant achievements under our belt, but we know there is more to be done - we must continue to work urgently to reduce our emissions further and faster.
"But our progress report tells those who claim there is no alternative to a high-carbon society: there is an alternative. We're creating an alternative.
"We know that individual actions account for more than 40% of emissions, so I would urge people around the country to use World Environment Day as a chance to assess their own impact on the environment, and take steps to reduce their individual carbon footprint."
To help people understand the negotiations at Copenhagen, the government will soon launch a new website, which will contain information on what it hopes to achieve with a global deal, and links to other websites where citizens can sign a number of pledges calling on world governments to work together to reach agreement.
To promote the new website, DECC has joined forced with The Isle of Wight Festival, which recently put measures in place to make it a more sustainable event with a series of Eco Actions. As part of the Eco Action promotion a message from Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband will be broadcast to festival-goers on the main stage throughout the event from June 12-14, encouraging people to visit the new website and sign up to the campaign to reach a global deal.
The report to the UN outlines the policies and programmes in place which are helping the UK nearly double its emissions reductions targets, as well as future policies which help continue to reduce emissions in the long-term. These include the groundbreaking Climate Change Act, which puts the UK on the path to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050; a comprehensive home energy efficiency programme; ambitious plans for more renewables, nuclear, and low-carbon fossil fuels; and championing of emissions targets for road vehicles, aviation and industry in Europe.