Govt commits to 80% GHG reductions

In his first major announcement since being appointed Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband has committed the UK to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

In a speech to the Commons, Mr Miliband backed the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee, which said the 60% target in the Climate Change Bill should be raised.

He said the 80% target will be legally binding, based on 1990 levels and – following the committee’s recommendation – will include aviation and shipping.

He also pledged to amend the Energy Bill to introduce a feed-in tariff to support small-scale renewables.

Energy companies were warned that unless they demonstrate action to end overcharging for customers on pre-payment meters, Government will consult on legislation to end unfair pricing.

Mr Miliband told MPs: “We all know that signing up to an 80% cut by 2050 is the easy part. The hard part is meeting it, and meeting the milestones that will show we’re on track.”

Campaigners said the move marked a major turning point in the fight against climate change.

But the RSPB, World Development Movement, Christian Aid and WWF urged Government to hit the target through emission cuts at home, rather than carbon trading abroad.

Benedict Southworth, director of the World Development Movement, said: “The 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions must actually take place in the UK.

“We shouldn’t pay the developing world to clean up our mess for us through the so-far ineffective EU Emissions Trading Scheme.”

The Renewable Energy Association, which has been jointly leading a campaign for feed-in tariffs, praised Mr Miliband’s move to introduce the initiative.

Director general Philip Wolfe said: “It is vital to give energy users the incentive to become ‘part of the solution’.

“The new tariff will give a big boost to communities, householders and businesses who want to contribute to our sustainable energy targets.”

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said businesses would play a “crucial role” in meeting the target.

“However, Government must ensure we have the right policies in place to reach this target,” John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI said.

Kate Martin

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