Carbon targets review? No case to answer
The Chancellor seems to be haemoraghing support for his call for a review of the UK’s climate change targets. The CBI says “It seems sensible to maintain the fourth carbon budget” at this time. An in-depth inquiry by the independent Committee on Climate Change concludes: “There is no economic or legal basis to change the budget.” Two and a half years ago, as FoE reminds us, the Coalition Government signed into law climate targets to slash Britain’s carbon emissions in half by 2025 – with support from the Energy Department and the Foreign Office but opposed by the Treasury. The Chancellor said the UK’s competitiveness might be put at risk by leading the world in curbing emissions. He won the argument for a review. But it now looks as if there is no case to answer.
For the CBI, Rhian Kelly, the CBI’s director for business environment, said: “It seems sensible to maintain the fourth carbon budget at this point in time. However, as the CCC suggests, it would be prudent for the Government to look again at the UK’s emissions reduction pathway once EU discussions have concluded, to make sure we remain aligned.”
In law, if there is to be a review, then the Climate Change Act states that it must be based on advice from the Committee on Climate Change, and must consider whether there has been a significant change in the circumstances upon which the budget was set: climate science, international circumstances and progress in the EU.
Only if there is a significant change, demonstrable on the basis of evidence and analysis, can the budget be changed. But the CCC’s report suggests the targets should actually be strengthened:
- The climate science has become even clearer. The non-inclusion of chemical feedbacks in the original analysis implies that the budget should in fact be tighter.
- Trends in the EU have, if anything, justify a slight tightening of the budget.
- The UK’s own negotiating position for an EU 2030 target of at least a 40% reduction in carbon emissions also implies tightening of the fourth carbon budget.
- Other countries are making real progress – see graph below. The UK is not way out in front. The USA and China are now making progress.
- Many EU countries are far ahead of the UK on issues such as renewables and energy efficiency.