The Government also needs to work with other nations to secure global climate cutting agreements – otherwise UK efforts will be meaningless.

The Environmental Audit Committee today (January 11) published its report on Carbon Budgets.

The report states the government’s work on cutting emissions would be ‘rendered meaningless’, if world leaders fail to reverse the growth in global emissions by 2020.

It calls on the Government to ‘redouble’ its efforts to cut emissions quickly at home-to help build the international political will necessary to secure a binding climate deal out of the ‘wreckage’ of Copenhagen.

The report examines the UK’s current progress and finds that the Government is only on track to meet its first carbon budget because of the impact of the recession.

Ministers have often been too ‘optimistic’ when projecting how much carbon their policies will cut – and there is now a worrying shortfall in delivery; UK emissions are currently falling by only about 1 % per year, instead of the 2-3% per year which the Committee on Climate Change say is needed.

Chair of the committee, Tim Yeo MP, said: “We must send a clear signal to developing countries that we are serious about making an international deal work – by meeting our own targets more quickly.

“At the moment, we are only on track to meet the targets in our first carbon budget period because of the impact of the recession.

“Setting carbon budgets involves making a series of difficult political judgments that balance what science is telling us with what is affordable, feasible and politically acceptable.

“On balance the Government has got these judgments right, where it is falling down is on delivery.”

Climate change minister, Joan Ruddock, responded to the report, saying: “There will be no let up in the UK’s efforts in tackling climate change and maximising the low carbon opportunities for Britain.

“We’ve already cut the UK’s emissions by nearly double the Kyoto target and are on track to meet the first three carbon budgets.

“But we also need a global move to low carbon, which is why we must complete the unfinished business of Copenhagen and get a comprehensive international deal which includes tough emissions reduction targets.”

Luke Walsh

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