The paper uses the Kaya identity to structure the evaluation, employing both a bottom up approach (based on projections of future UK population, economic growth, and technology) and a top down approach (deriving implied rates of decarbonization consistent with the targets and various rates of projected economic growth). Both approaches indicate that the UK economy would have to achieve annual rates of decarbonization in excess of 4 or 5%.

To place these numbers in context, the UK would have to achieve the 2006 carbon efficiency of France by about 2015, a level of effort comparable to the building of about 30 new nuclear power plants, displacing an equivalent amount of fossil energy.

The paper argues that the magnitude of the task implied by the UK Climate Change Act strongly suggests that it is on course to fail, and discusses implications.

This forms the abstract of an article published in Environmental Research Letters. The full article is available here.