The Reality of Reducing Carbon Emissions


The UK target for carbon reduction under the 2008 climate change act is to reduce the UK’s greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050, based on the 1990 baseline. This a legally binding climate change target set by the UK and written into EU law which represents the UK’s contribution towards global emissions reductions. This target is based on four carbon budgets and the UK is currently into its second budget (2013-17). See table below:


Budget Carbon budget level % reduction below 1990
1st Carbon budget (2008-12) 3,018 MtCO2e 23%
2nd Carbon budget (2013-17) 2,782 MtCO2e 29%
3rd Carbon budget (2018-22) 2,544 MtCO2e 35% by 2020
4th Carbon budget (2023-27) 1,950 MtCO2e 50% by 2025


Therefore by 2025 the UK is expected to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% compared to the 1990 figures. Is this realistic?


According to the Committee on Climate Change, for the buildings sector which accounts for around 17% of UK’s carbon emissions and particularly the non-residential private sector, both energy and emissions have remained flat in recent years with much potential carbon reduction still yet to be exploited.


With many buildings’ heat provision being provided by conventional boilers and forced draught burners, much can be achieved without major plant replacement and costly shutdowns. Burner upgrades, with advanced combustion controls with O2/CO trim systems and inverter driven fan motors, can make a considerable difference to plant emissions. For example, a retrofitted burner of 1200KW with a trim system and inverter drive running 24/7 on a process can offer a 2.5% annual fuel saving and a carbon saving of 31 tonnes per annum.


Overall, the tools and technology are available to make a real difference but it will take time and more government incentives for large plant owners to be persuaded to take up these carbon reduction technologies.


  • Martin Cooke, Technical Manager at EOGB Energy Products Ltd