The scientific basis for carbon reduction targets

This is a one-off evidence session to examine how the latest science on climate change relates to UK and international targets to reduce greenhouse gases.

Wednesday 26 November, Committee Room 15


  • Dr James Hansen (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies)
  • Tim Helweg-Larsen (Director, Public Interest Research Centre)


  • Professor John Beddington (Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office of Science)
  • Professor Robert Watson (Chief Scientific Adviser, Defra)

Dr James Hansen is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Adjunct Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University's Earth Institute. He is one of the world's leading climate scientists. His testimony before US Congressional committees in the late 1980s helped bring global warming to the attention of politicians. Earlier this year Dr Hansen published a paper recommending that global carbon targets should be made much stricter, and warned that we might set in motion a chain of irreversible catastrophic events if the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was not reduced rapidly. In September he gave evidence in the successful defence of six Greenpeace campaigners who had broken into Kingsnorth power station in Kent, to protest against building new coal-fired power stations.

Tim Helweg-Larsen is director of Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC). He won the 2007 Sheila McKechnie Environment Award for his campaigning on global climate change, and was one of the authors of the "Zero Carbon Britain" Report.

Professor John Beddington is the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office of Science. He is responsible to the Prime Minister and Cabinet for the quality of scientific advice within Government and provides personal advice to them on scientific and science policy issues.

Professor Robert Watson is Defra's Chief Scientific Adviser. He supports the UK Government's scientific work on minimising the effects of climate change and improving sustainability. From 1997 to 2002, Professor Watson was Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The Committee normally meets in a committee room at Westminster. These sessions are open to the public on a first come, first served basis. There are occasionally last minute changes of room and meetings may be held either in the Palace of Westminster or in Portcullis House. Those wishing to attend should check the venue by calling the committee office information line the day before the hearing on 020 7219 2033.


1. Membership:

Chairman: Mr Tim Yeo, MP

Mr Gregory Barker MP Mr Nick Hurd MP Mr Graham Stuart MP

Mr Martin Caton MP Mr Mark Lazarowicz MP Jo Swinson MP

Mr Colin Challen MP Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger MP Dr Desmond Turner MP

Mr David Chaytor MP Shahid Malik MP Joan Walley MP

Martin Horwood MP Mrs Linda Riordan MP Phil Woolas MP*

* The Minister for the Environment has ex-officio membership of the Committee in like manner to the Financial Secretary's membership of the Committee of Public Accounts

2. More information on the Committee's reports can be found on the Committee website at: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environmental_audit_committee.cfm

Committee Enquiries: Gordon Clarke, 020 7219 0248 or via email: clarkeg@parliament.uk

Media Enquiries: Laura Kibby, 020 7219 0718 or via email: kibbyl@parliament.uk

Specific Committee Information: Details of all the Committee's press releases and inquiries, together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee's Internet home page, which can be found at:

Committee Website: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environmental_audit_committee.cfm

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on www.parliament.uk