Climate Change Bill reaches Parliament – UK first to set emission targets

28 May 2008

 

Climate Change Bill reaches Parliament – UK first to set emission targets

Photo: FoE

The first Climate Change legislation to be enacted anywhere in the world looks set to be passed by Parliament by this summer. It sets a target of 60% reduction in C02 emissions by 2050, but the opposition and climate change groups are lobbying to make this an 80% reduction – to take account of newer scientific research which shows that 60% is too low to prevent damaging effects on the environment. It is also likely that the government will bow to pressure and set annual targets, probably a 3% reduction per year.

Tony Juniper of FoE, who have campaigned steadfastly for the bill, said at a packed meeting in Central London recently, “We have a popular mandate for what will be very likely the first law in the world setting a trajectory for carbon dioxide Greenhouse Gas Emissiona.”

Activists are pressuring the government to include UK air and shipping emissions into the process, but the government is baulking at this. Hilary Benn MP, the Environmental Secretary, said that this is an “International problem, and we need an international solution to this.” He said the government has fought very hard to get aviation emissions into EU emissions trading scheme, which will cap aviation emissions at their average 2004-2006 levels. Aviations organisations likely to emit GHGs beyond their cap will have to find reductions elsewhere.

Photo: FoE

Conservative environmental spokesman, Peter Ainsworth MP said, “I'm a big supporter of this Bill, sometimes I think I'm a bigger supporter than the Government.” He added “During the Bill's passage through the House of Lords it was very substantially improved.” He warned against letting the bill be “watered down” as it progressed through the House of Commons legislative procedure.”

Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesman, commented on the effect of people's pester power on MP's, “The volume of emails, letters, and phone calls have made even the hardest-hearted MP think again. That's people power.” He criticised the diffusion of power amongst ministries which means that energy policy is fragmented. To huge applause he urged the meeting to “Make sure we have the right number on the face of the Bill!” i.e. a legal agreement to an 80% reduction in emissions.

The Government has conceded the point enough to ask the independent Committee on Climate Change, headed by Adair Turner, to consider whether the 2050 target should be tightened up to 80 per cent, as the Committee considers its advice on the first three five-year carbon budgets. Obviously many people feel this is not a binding enough commitment. 255 MPS of all parties have signed an Early Day Motion urging stronger provisions in the bill.

Carbon News readers can check whether their MP has signed this important motion here . If yours has not, you can send them an email from WritetoThem.com .

Links:

http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/climate/news/big_public_meeting.html

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/uk/legislation/index.htm
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