Environmental groups call on the government to be bolder with the coming climate change bill.

09 November 2007

During a three month consultation period and pre-legislative scrutiny by three parliamentary committees, experts warned targets to reduce carbon emissions by 60 per cent would not be sufficient to bring global warming within a manageable limit.

Mr Benn stopped short of meeting calls for an 80 per cent cut in carbon emissions. However, he announced the target will be referred back to the committee on climate change.

The committee will also look at whether other greenhouse gases should be included in the bill and whether targets should include emissions from international aviation and shipping.

After concerns were raised about the effectiveness of the yet-to-be-formed committee, Mr Benn announced it will be able to appoint its own chief executive and staff.

The government will also be obliged to seek the committee's advice before it can alter any of its targets while ministers will have to explain to MPs why they reject any of the committee's recommendations.

Mr Benn said today: "We need to step up the fight against climate change and we need to do it fast.

"The draft bill we set out earlier this year, and have now refined, is a ground breaking blueprint for moving the UK towards a low carbon economy.

"It will bind us to legally enforceable emissions reduction targets at home, while giving us greater clout at the international negotiating table."

He added: "I am extremely grateful for the invaluable input from the three Parliamentary committees, and from industry and the wider public that has brought us to this point. Thanks to their efforts we will now have a bill that is stronger, more effective and more transparent.

The Green Party, however, said the government was still fudging and stalling on the issue of climate change and risked "sleepwalking into a climate disaster.

Green principal speaker Caroline Lucas said the 60 per cent target woefully inadequate and too distant, amounting to a bill that is "dangerously unambitious",

She accused the government of criminal irresponsibility in setting a target that "flies in the face of science," adding: "Creating a legal framework for tackling carbon dioxide emissions in the UK is a massive opportunity, but to start with the wrong target is to fall at the first hurdle."

Friends of the Earth agreed the government was getting ever closer to introducing a "truly groundbreaking" piece of legislation, but warned the bill must be strengthened to deliver the carbon cuts scientists demand.

The climate change bill will also create new powers to allow local authorities to pilot incentives for households to reduce the amount of rubbish they throw away.

A planned announcement on 'pay as you throw' bin taxes was delayed last week amid speculation it had been stalled by Downing Street.


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