COMMONS

No justification for review of carbon budgets

13 December 2013

The Government has been urged by MPs to accept the recommendation of its own advisors and drop its planned 'review' of the UK's 4th Carbon Budget covering the period 2023-27

Chair of the Committee, Joan Walley MP:

"Our Committee called for the Government to abandon the planned review of the binding carbon budgets, to avoid watering down the UK’s efforts to cut the emissions causing climate change. In providing its response to us the day before the Committee on Climate Change concluded that there was no justification for changing the carbon budgets, the Government seems to think that it can get away with avoiding having to address our recommendation. It can’t, and it should stop stalling for time. The message for the Government is clear – there is no scientific or economic justification for watering down the UK’s efforts to slow climate change."

The Government provided its response to a report from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) the day before  the Committee on Climate Change advised the Government that the Fourth Carbon Budget "should not and cannot be changed" on 11 December. As a result, the Government response does not address the EAC’s call for the Government’s planned 2014 review of the Carbon Budget to be abandoned. When the Energy Minister appeared before the EAC later that same day he claimed he could not comment on the advice from the Committee on Climate Change because he had not yet read it.

The Carbon Budgets represent emissions allowances in the years leading up to the legal requirement (under the 2008 Climate Change Act) to reduce UK emissions by 34% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050. The Fourth Carbon Budget (covering 2023-27) was set by the Government in June 2011, following the advice of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), but with a condition that that Budget would be reviewed in 2014 and potentially loosened if the UK’s emissions reductions were not aligned with the European reductions "trajectory".

The EAC’s October 2013 report on Progress on Carbon Budgets called for the Government to abandon plans for the 2014 review. The Government’s response, published by the EAC today, states that it will undertake the review "in early 2014", but makes no mention of the CCC’s advice on this issue that was published the day after the response was provided.

The Committee on Climate Change published its advice to the Government (in two parts) that the Fourth Carbon Budget "should not and cannot be changed under the terms of the [2008 Climate Change] Act": a 'Part 1' report on 7 November and a 'Part 2' report on 11 December. The Government response to the EAC’s report was provided on 10 December, the day before the  Committee on Climate Change’s Part 2 report.

Also on 11 December, later on the day when the CCC published its final 'Part 2' report, the Energy Minister appeared before the EAC, and told them that "I’m behind in my reading of their reports ... There are lots of reports I should be reading".

Further information

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