Greg Barker, shadow minister for the environment, told the Environmental Industries Commission’s conference on Thursday that his party believed the 2020 target was the vital milestone the Government must set, rather than the more distant 2050 target.

He said the Conservatives believed a 30% reduction by that date was needed, but the figure should be set by the new Climate Change Committee.

Mr Barker also called for the committee to be established immediately to set targets for emissions reductions instead of forming after the Climate Change Bill is passed.

He said: “We believe that the committee should be formed now – that we should be bringing that forward. There’s no real reason why that should not happen.”

The shadow minister also emphasised the need for all political parties to work together on an issue as important as climate change, and pledged the Conservatives’ commitment to cross-party working.

Government environment minister Phil Woolas said he believed there was no right or wrong answer to when the targets should be set.

He said: “It’s a dilemma. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to it.

“The important point from my point of view is that if we were to be doing it in an ideal world, we would have an international global target that everybody was signed up to and agreed to, but that’s not how it works.”

He outlined the Government’s current work to tackle a range of environmental issues, including drawing up the Climate Change Bill.

The conference also highlighted the important role that the environmental industry must play in protecting the environment.

Deputy London Mayor Nicky Gavron told delegates: “Environmental industries are the industries of the future.

“We want to work with you to accelerate carbon reduction.”

Kate Martin

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