Friday 21st October 2016                 Change text size:

‘No legal or economic basis’ for weakening UK carbon budget

power plant by thewritingzone via flickr

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said there is “no legal or economic basis” to change the UK’s fourth carbon budget, which covers the period from 2023 to 2027.

The budget can only be altered if there is a significant change in circumstances on which it was set. The CCC reviewed recent climate change evidence, including from the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

The IPCC found that global temperatures are likely to exceed 2C this century and action needs to be taken to curb carbon emissions. Overall, the review of climate science concluded that there is an increased confidence that human activity is causing global warming.

Lord Deben, chairman of the CCC, said, “The fourth carbon budget remains sensible in light of the latest evidence on climate science and international action.”

The CCC added that globally, emissions need to peak around 2020 and be followed with rapid cuts to emissions, in order to halve them by 2050.

Its report notes that progress towards a global deal has been slow but broadly expected. However, it also pointed out that there are now many countries that have made “ambitious commitments to reduce emissions”.

Deben added, “The latest IPCC report reiterates how vital continued action is to address climate change and the international response shows that the UK is in a global race to attract low-carbon investments and jobs.

“It will therefore be important for government to make a timely announcement on the fourth carbon budget. A protracted process would exacerbate current uncertainties about its commitment to supporting investment in low-carbon technologies.”

The renewable industry recently warned that a lack of a binding 2030 renewables target was sending poor signals to investors. This followed comments made by David Cameron, who pledged to review the so-called ‘green levies’ in an effort to tackle rising energy bills.

Friends of the Earth have welcomed the CCC report. The organisation’s executive director Andy Atkins said, “The advice is crystal clear. There are no grounds for weakening the fourth carbon budget – in fact it should be made stronger.”

WWF also commented, with the charity’s chief executive David Nussbaum saying that cutting back action to tackle climate change “looked like madness”.

He added, “Other countries are playing their part, with some going further and faster than the UK and reaping the benefits of the global race. So there’s also an urgent need for the UK to maintain the leadership we’ve shown in the pass.”

Further reading:

Government risks discouraging investors with lack of clarity, says renewables industry

2030 climate and energy framework urgently needed, say 13 EU states

‘Sceptical’ politicians and financial crisis both factors in UK climate lethargy

Osborne condemned for unsustainable Tory conference speech

IPCC climate report: global temperature likely to exceed 2C this century

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