UK should cut carbon by 42% by 2020

Government is on the right track when it comes to cutting carbon but needs to be prepared to make far bigger reductions than are currently thought politically possible.

This, in a nutshell, is the conclusion of the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on carbon budgets published this morning.

It says Government is also correct in using the IPCC’s findings as the basis for its work, but should take into account that the growing evidence base for climate change impacts is reducing levels of scientific uncertainty, emissions are still growing and impacts are occurring faster and in more damaging ways than was previously thought likely.

The report calls for more ambitious targets than are currently on the table.

“We recommend the Government should move to a target of a 42% cut by 2020 and should implement the intended budget irrespective of whether or not the EU moves to a 30% target for cutting its emissions,” it says.

“Setting a target of 42% now and moving to the intended budget should increase the long-term stability of the policy framework by removing any uncertainty about whether the higher target and budget might be imposed.

“But the Government should only move to increase the 2020 target once it is on track to meet its current targets and budgets.”

The CBI said Government needed to find a balance between making effective carbon cuts and keeping in line with the rest of the world, so as not to damage competitiveness.

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI director of business environment, said: “Businesses are excited by the opportunities the shift to a low-carbon economy could open up, and we were disappointed that world leaders did not agree a binding global deal on emissions cuts at Copenhagen.

“This makes it all the more urgent for the UK to press ahead with its own plans to curb emissions, including a big push on energy efficiency and serious investment in a broad mix of low-carbon power generation.

“It may be right to move to a more ambitious emissions reduction target in the future, but we need to be wary of being two steps ahead of the rest of the world.

“Without a level-playing field internationally, UK businesses could find themselves at a disadvantage, and some firms may simply shift production to countries where emissions targets aren’t as tough.”

The EAC’s report can be seen here

Sam Bond

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