60% emissions cuts by 2050 not enough, says environmental group

The government's draft Climate Change Bill is 'too myopic to be effective,' warned environmental group Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in response to a new review of the Bill by a joint committee last week.

The joint committee – made up of a select group of MP’s from both parties in the House of Lords and House of Commons – reviewed the Government’s draft Climate Change Bill, to which it made recommendations including highlighting the need for the addition of international aviation and shipping emissions in the UK’s carbon account saying this needs ‘clearer commitment.’

In response, Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Head of Sustainable Development, said: “The uncontrolled expansion of airports is a product of the government’s myopic policy and has to stop. Ministers must include aviation emissions in legally binding greenhouse gas targets. And BAA and the rest of the air travel industry must stop trying to bulldoze the camp at Heathrow and other public outcries about climate change, and instead come to the table and talk about how they can cut their emissions.”

Although the Joint Committee said that the introduction of the Climate Change Bill is a way of ‘taking a lead in tackling critical global issues relating to climate change,’ the committee flagged various concerns and called for greater action from government.

This includes criticism of the Bill’s target of a minimum 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, which “may not be adequate to prevent global temperatures rising above dangerous levels.”

The RSPB’s Martin Harper agrees. He said: “Climate change legislation must target 80 per cent not 60 per cent cuts to help stop temperatures rising too high too quickly.”

Further suggestions by the committee to the draft Climate Change Bill include greater parliamentary accountability in some of the Bill’s key provisions, further thinking on legal enforceability, and giving more prominence to the role of local authorities in helping communities adapt to the realities of climate change.

Lord Puttnam, Chairman of the Committee, said: “The Government’s biggest challenge is to ensure that we all understand the consequences of both our own and future generations.

“In that context we urge the Government to give the most careful consideration to our report.”

Dana Gornitzki

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