Environmental Audit Committee

UK's international credibility on climate change threatened unless we do more at home, say MPs

The Government needs to display greater commitment to tackling climate change at home if we are to have a credible voice in international negotiations, the Environmental Audit Committee warns today.

In a report, Reaching an international agreement on climate change, the Committee says that airport expansion plans or an over reliance on buying in emission credits to meet our domestic carbon reduction targets could undermine our position at a time when diplomacy is key.

The Committee adds that science must form the basis of any future agreements on emissions reductions targets. And on this basis, the UK and other developed countries will have to agree to cut emissions by 25-40 per cent by 2020 and up to 80-95 per cent by 2050 if dangerous climate change is to be avoided.

Developing countries will also need to commit to a range of actions, but those in which per capita GDP is growing quickly will need to commit to more robust measures.

Chairman Tim Yeo MP said: "The Bali roadmap recognised that developed countries will have to make deep cuts in emissions and that more needs to be done to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate climate change. However there remain real and substantial uncertainties about the pace and eventual outcome of the negotiations.

"During these complicated negotiations it is critically important that our negotiators do not lose sight of the science of climate change. This tells us that developed countries need to reduce emissions by 25-40% by 2020 and that developing countries must also play their role if we are to have a good chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. Such actions are the minimum that the UK and EU should accept.

"Therefore it is vitally important that the UK Government does not undermine its position by supporting domestic policies that run counter to climate change objectives."

The Committee recognises that contraction and convergence (C&C), which involves the contraction of greenhouse gas emissions and then the convergence of future national limits on emissions, could create political difficulties but would like the Government to use C&C as a guide to the level of effort required by each country.

The Committee also concludes:

€ UN negotiations will be key to reaching agreements and anything done in parallel such as by the Major Economies Meeting or the G8 will only be helpful if they support the UN process.

€ The Government should build links between the UK business lobby and those abroad to help move forward the climate change debate.

€ The Government should end its opposition to the hypothecation of EU ETS auction revenues for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the EU and in developing countries.

€ The EU is undermining its negotiating position by not basing its own 20 per cent target on the science, although it has said it will increase this to 30 per cent if international agreement is reached.

€ A key challenge will be finding the money to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate climate change.

€ New mechanisms should be developed for transferring funds and technology to developing countries

€ Deforestation and land use will have to be tackled in any future agreement and the Committee intends to return to this subject.

Notes for Editors:

The report published today by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is its Sixth Report of Session 2007-08, Reaching an international agreement on climate change, HC 355. 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

Copies of the EAC report will be available in hard copy from 11am on 8 July 2008; 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 355. 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

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.