Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2006-07

4 July 2007


Draft Climate Change Bill report published

In its report into the Draft Climate Change Bill the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee supports the principal purpose of the proposed bill.

It concludes that enshrining a carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction target in law will strengthen the Government's resolve to achieve it and provide much needed investor confidence.

During its inquiry the Committee heard a great deal of evidence that the target to cut emissions should be higher than the 60% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 proposed by the draft bill. However, whilst the Committee recognised that this target is already "extremely ambitious" it recommends that one of the first tasks of the proposed new Committee on Climate Change should be to assess this target and recommend what the target should be.

The MPs are concerned about the cumulative effects of emissions, not just the mid- and long-term reduction targets. They want annual milestones set and published so that it becomes apparent well before the end of each five-year 'budgetary period' (in which the Government sets a carbon dioxide 'budget' for the UK) whether or not CO2 reduction policies are working. The Bill must also avoid confusion in its language and use only the terms carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) when describing which emissions to atmosphere it is dealing with.

The Committee further recommends that the Government should publish a breakdown of its national emission reduction targets to help different sectors of the economy appreciate what action they will have to take. Parliament should also play a greater role in monitoring emissions reduction performance, with regular debates in the House of Commons on the Government's responses to the annual progress reports of the Committee on Climate Change.

MPs recommend that the facility allowed in the bill to purchase carbon credits from abroad should only be used as a last resort so that the UK's credibility is not undermined on the international stage and other countries' own environmental efforts are not diminished.

Commenting on the Committee's report Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee the Rt Hon Michael Jack MP said:

"It's clear from the evidence we heard that the Government is going to be pushed very hard on the level of the carbon dioxide reduction target currently in the Bill. Much new scientific research suggests that 80% rather than 60% should be the number.

It's to help settle this argument that we suggest that the Bill gives some real teeth to the Committee on Climate Change in letting it arbitrate on this matter.

With no actual sanction against the Government in the Bill if it does not meet its target, it is vital that Parliament has an annual opportunity to hold the Executive to proper public account for any failure to perform under the terms of the Bill. Judicial review is no substitute for the court of public opinion."

- ENDS -

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. For media inquiries, or to arrange bids for interviews with the Chairman, Rt Hon Michael Jack MP, and other Members of the EFRA Committee, please call Laura Kibby on 07917 488 557.

2. For information about the Committee's inquiry, please call Dr Antonia James on 020 7219 2290. The full report will be available on the Committee's website soon after 00.01 am on 4 July 2007. The written and oral evidence taken in the inquiry will be available soon after 11.00 am on 5 July 2007. Website: www.parliament.uk/efracom

3. To view the uncorrected transcripts of evidence taken in this inquiry please see the Committee's 'Draft Climate Change Bill' inquiry page at:
www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environment__food_and_rural_affairs/efra_draft_climate_change_bill.cfm

4. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published the Draft Climate Change Bill on 13 March 2007. Information about the Draft Bill can be found at: www.defra.gov.uk/news/latest/2007/climate-0313.htm