Environmental Audit Committee

29 October 2007


Government must lead to end confusion and bring coordination to climate change policy

A powerful new body should be created within the Cabinet Office to drive forward the Government’s climate change policy and to diminish inter-departmental conflict.

This is the principal conclusion of the Environmental Audit Committee report into the Structure of Government and the Challenge of Climate Change published today. The report also recommends the creation of a cross departmental Climate Change Minister who would take part in Cabinet meetings.

The draft Climate Change Bill and the creation of the Office of Climate Change are welcomed by MPs as indications that the Government is learning some lessons from its failure to meet its 2010 carbon dioxide reduction targets.

However, the Committee warns that the current institutional and policy frameworks for dealing with climate change are confused and do not promote effective action on reducing emissions. It wants a Climate Change and Energy Secretariat, based in the powerful Cabinet Office, to oversee management of climate change policy.

It also concluded that:

• A review of government action in the area of climate change must be conducted to provide clarity of responsibility for developing and delivering climate policies;

• Long-term mitigation and adaptation policy frameworks must be developed to ensure that policy decisions taken today do not lock in long-term emissions, and to prepare the UK for climate change impacts;

• Failure to address a skills shortage in the civil service will undermine attempts to move the UK to a low carbon economy.

EAC Chairman Tim Yeo said: “The way the Government has addressed climate change has led to a confusing framework that doesn’t promote effective action to cut emissions.

The Government must ensure there is clear leadership and responsibility for the development and delivery of climate change mitigation and adaptation policies. This is particularly important given the large number of bodies involved.

A new and authoritative body should be created within Government, in the Cabinet Office, to drive forward policy and diminish the potential for conflicting objectives.

The Government must also ensure that all its policies are consistent with both long-term emissions reductions targets, and long-term climate change impacts. The UK must be equipped to meet both the challenge of a carbon constrained world and the likely climate change impacts that will occur. It would be disastrous if bad planning policy meant that today’s new developments become tomorrow’s climate slums.

Our recommendations would create a more effective framework for dealing with climate change. However this framework alone will not cut emissions. That needs committed leadership by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The Government’s commitment to sustainable development and climate change will be judged by actions and achievements, not speeches and targets.”

Copies of the report will be available in hard copy from 11am on 29 October 2007; and can be obtained from TSO outlets and from the Parliamentary Bookshop, 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square, London SW1A 2JX (020 7219 3890) by quoting House of Commons No 740.  The text of the Report will also be available from approximately 3.30pm onwards on its publication date, on the Committee's Internet homepage: www.parliament.uk/eacom

Notes for Editors

For further information on the report, or to bid to interview the Chairman, journalists may phone the Committee’s press officer, Laura Kibby, on 020 7219 0718.

The report published today by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is its Ninth Report of Session 2006-07, The structure of Government and the challenge of climate change, HC 740. Details of all the Committee’s press releases together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee’s website at: www.parliament.uk/eacom