Government must consider carbon impact of policy

While Government is good at weighing up the financial burden of potential policies, it is all but ignoring the carbon cost, according to leading environmental lobbyists.

Before Government tries to introduce a new policy as legislation, it undergoes testing using what is known as a Regulatory Impact Assessment.

This assessment looks at the costs of implementing a particular policy against the benefits it will bring.

But, despite the green rhetoric popular across the political spectrum, these assessments all but ignore the possible impact on climate change of new policies.

While Government has committed to making its own estate carbon neutral by 2012, there is, according to the Environmental Industries Commission, less being done to keep broader policies on track.

Proposed new guidance from the Cabinet Office on carrying out Regulatory Impact Assessments, now out for consultation, does nothing to remedy this situation says the EIC and even proposes further downgrading the environmental impact of assessing new policy proposals.

The trade association is now pushing for all would-be policies, regardless of whether they would normally be considered to be environmental in nature, to have a mandatory carbon impact assessment as part of the wider analysis of their likely benefits.

Adrian Wilkes, EIC executive chairman, said: “Following the Stern Review it is vital that all policy proposals are assessed for their carbon impact. It would be ludicrous for Ministers, having identified climate change as the most important challenge for the Government, not to be aware of the carbon impact of new policies.”

“Regulatory Impact Assessments must stop focusing on the exaggerated cost claims of polluting industries and assess the economic benefits of environmental protection – including the huge new opportunities that the Stern Review identified for the environmental technology industry in helping the world tackle climate change.”

Sam Bond

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