In its assessment report released today, the CCC says that there have been no changes to global science and policy that would justify a loosening of the UK’s fourth carbon budget, covering 2023-2027, which was set in June 2011.

The report says: “In respect of science, international and EU criteria, there has been no significant change in the circumstances upon which the budget was set. In this regard, there is therefore no basis to support a change in the fourth carbon budget”.

As part of the agreement to set the budget, the Government announced that it would be reviewed in 2014.

However, the CCC states that “only if there is a significant change, demonstrable on the basis of evidence and analysis, can the budget be changed”.

Commenting on the report, head of climate and environment policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, Gareth Stace, said: “The Committee on Climate Change is right to say that the scientific evidence hasn’t changed but that’s far from the whole story. Climate change policies are pushing UK electricity prices ahead of the rest of Europe and they are set to rise further.

“It’s vital that Government undertakes a full review of all the evidence before deciding on the 4th Carbon Budget and ensures that British industry isn’t saddled with further unilateral cost increases”.

WWF-UK chief executive David Nussbaum, said that in the face of significant risk to both environment and the world economy, to be considering cutting back on action to tackle climate change is “madness”.

“Other countries are playing their part, with some going further and faster than the UK and reaping the benefits of the global race. So there’s also an urgent need for the UK to maintain the leadership we’ve shown in the past.

“If we’re to have any chance of getting a new global deal on climate change it’s more important than ever that we are seen to take our commitments under own Climate Change Act seriously,” added Nussbaum.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research published in September, which stated that human influence on the climate system is “clear” and has been the dominant cause of global warming since the mid-20th century, has reaffirmed the need for countries to establish and drive action on carbon emissions reduction.

Yesterday, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) released data showing that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have hit a record high.

The WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that between 1990 and 2012 there was a 32% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.

Carbon dioxide, mainly from fossil fuel-related emissions, accounted for 80% of this increase. The atmospheric increase of CO2 from 2011 to 2012 was higher than its average growth rate over the past ten years, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Leigh Stringer

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