1) DOES THE UK GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY BELIEVE,IN LIGHT OF THE SERIOUS GLOBAL ECONOMIC MALAISE THAT EUROPE, INCLUDING BRITAIN, IS NOW SUFFERING, THAT ITS AMBITIOUS CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN, WHICH CALLS FOR AN 80% REDUCTION IN CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS DEEMED NECESSARY TO FORESTALL GLOBAL CLIMATE ARMAGEDDON, FACILITATED BY IMPOSITION OF EXPENSIVE ECONOMICALLY RESTRICTIVE ENERGY-USE AND GENERATION & WASTE RECYCLING REGULATIONS AND COSTLY INCOME, EXCISE, USE AND ENVIRONMENTAL TAX INCREASES THAT WILL RAISE THE COSTS OF ALL GOODS AND SERVICES TO UK BUSINESSES & CONSUMERS, IS POLITICALLY DESIRABLE, or REALISTIC OR EVEN ECONOMICALLY and ENVIROMENTALLY ACHIEVABLE???
Music by Leigh Harline / Lyrics by Ned Washington
If your heart is in your dream
New targets to cut carbon emissions expected to cost
Hydrogen cars, better insulated homes and solar panels will be recommended as part of costly plans being brought forward by the Government to cut carbon emissions, despite the recession.
By Louise Gray
29 Nov 2008
Under plans to tackle climate change targets, businesses will be expected to invest in updating equipment, improving insulation and replacing transport fleets.
And individuals will also be expected to make big lifestyle changes, for example by improving energy efficiency in the home, turning off appliances and paying more for products or services that pollute the environment.
Next week, Lord Turner will set out how the Government is expected to cut greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050 on 1990 levels.
He will set a series of five year "carbon budgets" with advice on how each sector will have to contribute.
The power sector, which produces 30 per cent of the UK's emissions, will be expected to make the bulk of the cuts. This will mean a massive investment in renewables such as wind farms and "clean" energy, such as nuclear, that could ultimately be passed onto the customer.
It will also cast doubt on plans to build a new generation of coal-fired power stations in the UK including the controversial Kingsnorth power station in Kent.
Transport will take a blow with car companies bringing forward a new generation of electric cars, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen vehicles whilst phasing out the cheaper polluting models.
As chairman of the independent Climate Change Committee, Lord Turner will set legally binding targets for the amount of greenhouse gases the UK can produce by 2012, 2017 and 2022. He said the cost of cutting carbon emissions will be a saving in the long term, as energy efficiency is improved and the catastrophic consequences of climate change will be avoided.
"It's very important to avoid misuse of the temporary downturn for lessening policies," he warned.
Businesses concerned about rising costs and job losses have already asked the Government to concentrate on cheaper measures such as improving energy efficiency rather than spending on renewables.
Matthew Farrow, head of environment at the CBI, said it was crucial to make the right decisions in the economic downturn.
"The economic difficulties make it even more important that we use the most cost effective methods to cut emissions," he warned.
Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, admitted there will be a cost over the next 10 to 15 years but it will be recouped in savings on energy efficiency and ultimately lead to a more sustainable economic model.
"In the medium term there will be a need to invest in new technologies, products and services that will be low carbon. Individuals will be expected to pay for that. But that is the normal way of developing growth."
Lord Turner has signalled that the aviation industry will be given leeway, while biofuels are developed, sparking speculation the Government will be able to go ahead with airport expansion.
But this does mean there will have to be steeper cuts elsewhere.
He will also set out the proportion of cuts that can be made though 'emissions trading' abroad, for example by buying carbon "offsets" from rainforest countries.
But Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said the UK should take responsibility for emissions.
"The committee should put pressure on the Government to abandon climate-wrecking plans to expand UK airports and not to build coal-fired power stations without carbon capture and storage from the outset," he said.
"Investing in green energy and cutting energy waste can create tens of thousands of new jobs, reduce our dependency on the yo-yoing cost of fossil fuels and put Britain at the forefront of a green industrial revolution."
European unemployment soars:
Jobless rate in the 15-nation euro zone jumps 7.7% last month.
November 28, 2008
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Unemployment in the 15 nations that share the euro shot up to 7.7% in October - the highest level in two years - as growth dropped sharply, the EU statistics agency Eurostat said Friday.
Prices also plunged with the annual inflation rate sinking to 2.1% in November from 3.2% in October, Eurostat said. Lower inflation gives the European Central Bank more room to reduce interest rates, which would help stoke growth.
The euro area officially went into a recession in spring and summer this year when growth shrank in the second and third quarters, as a financial crisis curbed global demand.
Eurostat said some 225,000 more people were seeking work in October from the previous month. That means some 12 million people in the euro area were out of work last month. It also said unemployment in September was worse than it had first estimated, revising the rate upward to 7.6% from the 7.5% it reported last month.
Across all the EU's 27 states, some 17 million people were job-hunting in October, 290,000 more than a month earlier. The EU jobless rate was 7.1% in October, up from 7% in September.
The EU's executive Commission forecasts that the labor market will get even worse next year, with the euro-zone rate climbing to 8.4% in 2009 from a decade-low of 7% at the end of 2007. This will see an extra 2 million people out of work.
Unemployment is highest in Spain, at 12.8%. The bursting of a housing bubble has put builders out of work just as the tourism industry has been hurt by the global economic downturn.
The European Commission this week called on EU governments to pay out $258 billion in tax cuts, soft loans to industry and credit guarantees to encourage growth.
Tumbling exports have hurt Europe's manufacturing industry - particularly in Germany, the world's largest exporter - which had helped drive economic growth this year even as household spending froze.
But one of the most important tools to manage the economy is out of the hands of most European governments - the independent European Central Bank decides on borrowing costs for euro nations and until recently was slow to cut interest rates while inflation was high.
The price index is a calmer 2.1% this month, the lowest since September 2007. It is also close to the ECB's guideline of just under 2%. Oil prices have dropped by more than half since July while retailers are slashing prices in the key Christmas shopping season.
The bank's mandate is to tackle inflation, which it has repeatedly stressed was too high this year, but the lower figure released Friday will allow it to move more aggressively to slash rates and kickstart the economy.
In recent days, bank governors have spoken out in favor of lowering its key interest rate - now 3.25% - to tackle the slowing economy. They next meet to decide rates is on Dec. 4 in Brussels.
Marco Valli, an economist at Unicredit, said he expected the ECB to make a "shy cut" next week to bring the interest rate to 2.75% next week. Bank of America's Gilles Moec said he thought the bank might gun for a more dramatic cut to 2.5%.
Lower borrowing costs can tempt businesses and households to borrow more - as long as banks pass on the cuts to customers.
That isn't always the case in the current climate of tight credit. Banks are more fearful about taking on risks in the wake of the financial crisis and are finding it harder and more expensive to borrow money on credit markets that they lend on to customers.
In Britain, the government has pressured banks to pass on hefty interest rate cuts to hard-pressed homeowners and small businesses. Some banks prefer to freeze their rates to claw back profit and shore up their reserves.
Eurozone set for rate cut of at least 50 points
By Ralph Atkins in Frankfurt
November 27 2008
Eurozone official interest rates are almost certain to be slashed again next week by at least half a percentage point after a survey on Thursday showed the region facing its worst downturn since the recession of the early 1990s.
Economic confidence in the 15-country region crashed this month to its lowest point since August 1993, the European Commission reported. With inflation also falling rapidly, the European Central Bank has not sought to stop financial markets assuming its main interest rate will be cut next Thursday from 3.25 per cent to 2.75 per cent or below.
Public ECB comments show the bank remains cautious about the pace of cuts, pointing to a half-point reduction next week – the same as in October and this month. But economic news has been consistently gloomier than expected, strengthening the case for a larger cut.
The ECB is unlikely to go as far as the Swiss central bank, which slashed its target interest rate by a full percentage point last week, let alone the 1.5 percentage point cut by the Bank of England. But 75 basis points seems a distinct possibility.
The size of next week’s ECB rate cut will depend on how it expects the eurozone to perform in the next few months. The ECB will be hesitant in predicting any turnround, while its “risk management” assessment could conclude faster rate cuts are needed.
Governing council members have expressed concern that rate cuts will be less effective in kick-starting growth than in the past.
Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, an ECB executive board member, argued this week that in “spaghetti westerns”, the “goodies” won if they shot first – but they had to hit the target:
“There is no scene more depressing than one in which the cavalry is surrounded, without any ammunition left.”
By VANESSA GERA
November 27, 2008
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The global financial crisis will make it harder for countries to agree on an ambitious new treaty to combat global warming and underscores the need to make green technologies profitable, the U.N. climate chief said Thursday.
"Climate change is an environmental problem looking for an economic answer," Yvo de Boer said at a news conference in Warsaw. "The challenge...is to achieve green economic growth."
De Boer spoke ahead of a major two-week climate change conference that begins Monday in Poznan, Poland. Participants from more than 190 countries will work out the details of a climate change accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012.
"The financial crisis will throw a shadow over the climate change negotiations," said de Boer, executive director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "That is why I put so much emphasis on the climate regime becoming self-financing."
Citing an example, he said that could involve the auctioning of CO2 emission rights in industrialized countries.
De Boer said a worldwide financial slump will lead initially to lower emissions of carbon-rich gases as economic activity slows down. But the overall impact is damaging because the slowdown will hurt the world's poorest people more than anyone else.
Lower oil prices also will make investing in green energy projects less attractive. And the pool of investment capital available to fund them already has shrunk.
De Boer cited a 2006 report by British economist Nicholas Stern, which warned that if the world does not act to halt global warming, it will cause an economic catastrophe on the scale of the two world wars and the Great Depression combined. [CLIMATE CHANGE DELUSION]
"I hope the financial crisis will not lead to a choice for cheap and dirty technologies because in both the energy sector and in industry those technologies have a lifetime of 30 to 50 years," de Boer said.
The Poznan conference marks a key step in the search for a deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which is expected to be signed in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.
De Boer spoke at a two-day conference of government officials and representatives of some of the most polluting industries — steel, aluminum and concrete — in order to include them in the push to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
By James Kanter
New York Times
November 26, 2008
Nicholas Stern, a British economist and leading expert on climate change, says the European Union needs to maintain its resolve on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The European Union should agree on a strong package of measures to tackle greenhouse gas emissions even if that means making concessions to satisfy reluctant countries like Poland, according to Nicholas Stern, one of the world’s foremost authorities on climate change.
“It’s absolutely crucial that they hold together on this,” Mr. Stern said Tuesday in a interview by telephone. “Now is not the time for Europe to go flaky.”
Mr. Stern gained international stature in 2006 when Tony Blair, then the British prime minister, presented Mr. Stern’s report on the economics of climate change. Mr. Stern said Tuesday that he was concerned about discord among E.U. countries over proposed laws that would raise costs for companies like coal-burning utilities and for countries like Poland, one of the bloc’s heaviest polluters.
Policy leaders like Mr. Stern say that negotiations next month to lay the groundwork for a new global emissions treaty are more likely to succeed if the E.U. agrees to an ambitious package of measures. Such an agreement would send a message to the rest of the world, including developing countries like China and India, that richer countries are prepared to do their part to cut greenhouse gases.
But efforts to bring aboard some skeptical nations so far have failed. In particular, Poland and other coal-dependent EU members in Eastern Europe oppose plans to require power stations to buy all of their emissions permits starting in 2013.
They say the requirement would raise energy prices while lowering economic growth. Most permits are given away free. Last week, Poland rejected as too onerous a proposal to continue the free distribution of half of its permits for generating electricity until 2016.
“I do think Poland’s needs need to be taken into account,” Mr. Stern said.
E.U. nations still could reach a compromise before a European meeting in mid-December. But the disagreement highlights how difficult it may be to overcome the tendency of nations to protect their industries under the expanded global carbon-trading system that will be under discussion at the meeting, to be held in Poznan, Poland.
International deals aside, Mr. Stern said, “people are willing and keen for the own governments to get on with” cutting emissions through direct measures. Mr. Stern said that was borne out by a study of global attitudes on climate change to be released.
Wednesday by the bank HSBC, where Mr. Stern is a special adviser on economic development and climate change.
The research was based on a 20-minute Internet survey of 12,000 respondents in 12 countries — including Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Britain and the United States - from mid-September to early October.
Nearly twice as many respondents said they wanted governments to invest in ways of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, compared with those who supported pursuing international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol.
Respondents also said governments should focus more on increasing investment in renewable energy, halting deforestation and conserving water resources than on carbon markets or taxes.
Coughing up [CHOKING] to curb climate change
November 25, 2008
The UK's Climate Change Bill, which commits future governments to cut CO2 emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, is about to receive Royal Assent but at what cost? Peter Lilley MP asks why ministers failed to mention that the legislation could cost each family in the UK up to £10,000.
Can you spare £10,000 for a good cause? The government thinks you can - despite the recession.
Parliament passed the Climate Change Bill, which is set to receive Royal Assent in the coming days, which will force you to cough up.
This legislation binds future British governments to introduce unilaterally, even if other countries do not follow suit, massive spending programmes which could cost up to £200bn; that's £10,000 from every family in the country.
I'm not talking about rescuing the banks. That involved loans which we should eventually get back. This is real money in taxes and lost incomes - money you will never see again.
The bank rescue was to save the economy. This is to save the planet.
Costing the Earth
Hold on! I hear you exclaim. No-one asked us if we could afford £10,000. We haven't heard anything about a £200 billion package. That's enormous.
That's right; it is enormous and you didn't hear anything about it. That is the scandal.
Neither Parliament nor most of the media bothered to discuss the cost of one of the most immense projects ever adopted in this country. Indeed, Parliament wafted it through without even discussing its cost and with only five votes against.
In my experience, our biggest mistakes are made when Parliament and the media are virtually unanimous and MPs switch off their critical faculties in a spasm of moral self-congratulation.
That is what happened with this Bill.
We all want to save the planet from overheating, just as we all want to save the financial system from meltdown. We accept that both rescues may cost us a lot.
But a healthy democracy should at least debate the cost, compare it with the likely benefits (or costs of doing nothing) and consider whether we can achieve the same ends at less cost.
Had MPs or commentators bothered to read the government's own estimates of the potential costs and benefits of the Climate Change Bill - the Impact Assessment - they would have found some extraordinary things.
Admittedly, on this occasion government failed to publish copies of the assessment in the normal way so it took a little effort to obtain. Apparently, I was the only MP to obtain a copy.
The contents of the Impact Assessment are astounding. Whereas it puts the Bill's potential cost as up to £205bn, it says the maximum benefits of this massive expenditure is £110bn.
I am all in favour of taking out an insurance policy, as the government describes it, against the threat of global warming.
But would you insure your home with a company if they charged premiums which could be double the value of your house? There must be a better insurance policy than this.
Moreover, the government admits that their estimate of the "maximum" cost is far from being the real maximum since it omits three huge items.
First, the Impact Assessment admits that it is "unable to capture transition costs which could be 1.3% to 2% of GDP in 2020".
Second, they make the fantastically optimistic assumption that all businesses will know and instantly adopt the most cost efficient technologies to achieve carbon savings.
Third, the assessment "cannot capture trade and competitiveness impacts"; in particular, the "relatively high risks of the transfer of productive capital to countries without carbon policies".
In other words, if we pursue the policies in the Climate Change Bill unilaterally, without others doing the same, we could end up driving UK business abroad without reducing carbon emissions because they will still be spewing forth carbon.
Yet this bill legally binds future British governments unilaterally to spend billions of pounds on trying to prevent climate change even if other countries do not follow our lead.
There is a case for Britain taking the lead, but the bill should surely only become binding if a critical mass of other countries follow our lead; we cannot save the planet single-handed.
The bill originally bound governments by law to meet targets for reducing carbon emissions by 26% by 2020 and 60% by 2050.
The new climate minister, Ed Miliband, amended it to raise the final target by a third to 80% - thereby increasing the likely cost by at least a third, although no-one deigned to mention this. He has refused to reveal the extra cost until after the bill becomes law.
These are pretty onerous targets, yet the UN says Britain will fall far short of our existing target to cut 20% off the 1990 level of carbon emissions by 2010.
Climate activists hope that making the new targets legally binding will somehow ensure they will be met. They clearly believe that if only King Canute had passed a law requiring the tide to go out, it would have done so!
The new law will not punish ministers if they fail to achieve these targets. The sole effect of enshrining the targets in statute will be to open government policies to judicial review. Judges will then assess whether current measures will achieve the targets.
I have little faith in any government's ability to meet those targets cost effectively. But empowering judges to prescribe additional measures costing billions of pounds, without being accountable to the electorate, is a recipe for huge additional costs.
The oddest thing about the government's cost/benefit analysis is that it contradicts the Stern Review.
Sir Nicholas Stern concluded that the cost of preventing climate change would be small relative to the benefits.
Yet the Impact Assessment reveals that the costs could dwarf the potential benefits.
The Stern Review was much criticised for resorting to unprecedented means to inflate the benefits artificially.
In particular, he used an astonishingly low discount rate thereby giving a huge weight to benefits that will not accrue until centuries ahead. In fact, half the benefits he expects will not occur until after the year 2800!
Ministers have admitted to me that their Impact Assessment rejected Stern's dubious figures and used conventional discount rates.
Yet they still quote Stern's conclusions to justify their Bill and never mention their own more recent calculations.
What a disgrace that our legislators failed to scrutinise and amend this Bill as rigorously as the US Congress examined the Paulson package before agreeing it.
If the Impact Assessment is right and Stern wrong there is a strong case for spending more of taxpayers' billions on adapting to climate change and less on trying to prevent it, but we will not have that option.
Peter Lilley is Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden
The Green Room is a series of opinion articles on environmental topics running weekly on the BBC News website
Financial crisis clouds EU's climate change plans
Agence France Presse
Oct 11, 2008
BRUSSELS (AFP) — The financial crisis and slumping economic activity are threatening Europe's ambitious plans to slash greenhouse gas emissions, with governments eager to avoid saddling companies with additional burdens.
"The Germans are giving up and the Italians are getting ready to follow," said one European negotiator on condition of anonymity.
The European Union's French presidency wants EU leaders to agree to "keep the balance and the fundamental framework" of Europe's ambitious plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions, according to draft conclusions obtained by AFP.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants EU nations to confirm the tough objectives imbedded in the plan.
"It's not certain that this will be accepted," a French diplomat acknowledged.
Likewise, at the European Commission, a senior official said: "I do not think that there will be very ambitious conclusions on this point."
"The governments are on the defensive, they are less favourable towards the agenda and discovered a lot of problems," he said.
Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso aims to put them on the spot by asking them "to say whether they consider the objectives to no longer be justified and if this is the case then to assume their responsibilities," according to the source.
EU governments, the European Commission and the European Parliament are in the midst of difficult negotiations over the plans with the aim of striking a deal by the end of the year.
"If member states are no longer up to the challenge then we might as well stop," a European negotiator said.
Europe aspires to lead the world in cutting greenhouse gas emissions with plans to cut such pollution by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. Some of the road has already been travelled with a six percent reduction registered in 2005.
Heavy industry such as steelworks, power and petrochemical plants, which generate 40 percent of the EU's emissions each year, will have to carry a particularly heavy burden.
They are supposed to cut their emissions by 21 percent from 2005 levels and pay for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit starting in 2013.
Industry has baulked at the duty, which it says will make European companies uncompetitive against rivals in China, India, Russia and the United States.
Although lawmakers at the European Parliament rejected on Tuesday a German demand to water down the constraints on industry, Berlin remains up in arms.
"Manufacturing sector companies facing the toughest international competition should benefit from 100 percent free emission quotas until an international agreement is reached," the BusinessEurope association said on Thursday.
Their demand has the support of German and Polish leaders, who are working hard to form a blocking minority.
The French EU presidency has brought out a compromise proposal which would offer 100 percent free emissions quota but just for specified industries.
"The current context is worsening concerns. We have to respond while not undermining the targets and balances on the plan," said French European Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet.
21 September 2008
BRUXELLES) - The recent economic downturn could push the European Union to adopt more modest ambitions in its fight against climate change.
Although the European Commission has said it wants to cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020, business leaders oppose the use of fines to oblige industry to reduce its emissions -- especially in the current economic crisis.
The cost to industry is estimated at some 44 billion euros per year between 2013 and 2020, with a tonne (1.1 US tons) of C02 costing 30 euros.
Business leaders have denounced the policy as a "tax", threatening to take their investments elsewhere and move their more polluting activities out of Europe.
Faced with the threat of job losses, governments are feeling the pressure.
"As the economic situation becomes more challenging, it's normal that government becomes more defensive on climate change as the required efforts will lead to additional costs in the short term," a senior Commission official told AFP on the condition of anonimity.
A number of European politicans are now speaking openly about diluting, or even abandoning the project.
"This plan is garbage. It's politically correct, but it won't happen," former Italian prime minister Guilano Amato said at the end of August.
Renato Brunetta, Italy's minister for innovation, has been equally blunt.
"If it happens, it would kill the economic upturn. No one needs to kill themselves," said Brunetta, a trained economist.
One negotiator involved in the talks between the Commission and member states, said: "We're hearing these arguments more and more, notably from countries such as Italy and Germany, where industry is increasingly worried."
Brussels was taking the threat very seriously, the negociator added.
The EU's Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has nevertheless also publicly called on politicans and businesses not to oppose the measures.
And European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: "I'm counting on Mr. Sarkozy's authority that the package will be adopted without being watered down before the end of the year."
France has made this plan one of its priorities during its EU presidency. But Sarkozy's own difficulties finding agreement at home on how to finance his "environmental revolution" suggest the size of the task facing the EU.
French negotiators still have a few weeks and two ministerial meetings to agree on a common position to be presented to the European parliament in October, with a view to reaching an agreement by the end of the year.
"There has been no fundamental breakthrough as yet, but the final phase of negotiations has begun and provided the economic situation does not worsen, we hope to find an agreement," one negociator said.
The plan has two goals, the same source said: "It's about putting in place the tools to maintain European industry's competiveness and helping member states achieve their national objectives.
But the negotiator cautioned: "Some decisions are very political and will involve trade-offs."
WWF UK Climate Change Campaign
27 November 2008 is a historic date for both WWF and the planet. Just over a year since the UK Climate Change Bill was first introduced to parliament, the Queen gave her Royal Assent to the first piece of legislation anywhere in the world aimed at setting binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s been a year of intense political lobbying and public campaigning by WWF, our campaigners and our partners in Stop Climate Chaos − a coalition of some 60 environmental, development and faith-based organisations. However, at last, we can celebrate success in achieving the Climate Change Act.
WWF would like to thank all of our campaigners and supporters in helping to make the case for a strong, effective Climate Change Act.
How we made a difference Our campaigning work has helped to strengthen the resulting legislation in a number of crucial ways:
Emissions target: the new law includes the emissions target we called for – a reduction in UK emissions by 2050 of at least 80%. That’s 20% more than the original government plans. What’s more, all greenhouse gases are now included in the target – the initial proposals considered CO2 only. Calls for a 80% target from leading UK environmental scientists, in a statement coordinated by WWF in January 2008, can be seen as a turning point in the campaign. But continued lobbying throughout the year, including the delivery of an 8,300-name WWF petition to Downing Street, also helped keep up the pressure.
Boats and planes: a key achievement was to ensure the government included emissions from international aviation and shipping within the scope of the legislation. When setting the UK’s carbon budgets (legally-binding limits on carbon emissions), the government must now factor in the anticipated emissions from aviation and shipping and set reduction targets for other sectors accordingly. This is a great step forward and means the new Act will now account for all UK emissions.
Budgets, credits and reporting: another important area where the Act has been significantly strengthened is the placing of limits on the number of carbon credits that can be bought. The original Climate Change Bill would have allowed unlimited use of carbon credits to achieve emissions reductions – meaning that the required reductions needn’t have been made in the UK. Responding to continuing pressure from campaigners and opposition parties, the government introduced a limit on the number of carbon credits it can buy. Whilst not perfect − the government will still get to decide what the limit should be and it will not apply to all credits − this amendment is a significant improvement.
By a setting a limit on the use of carbon credits, the government will now come under much greater scrutiny and pressure to ensure that it implements policies that make real reductions in the UK, such as through greater energy efficiency and renewable energy, and create new green jobs.
Finally, the government has also committed itself to introducing mandatory carbon disclosure for companies from 2012. This means UK corporations will have to be more transparent about their emissions. It should improve business behaviour and create an incentive to invest in low-carbon technologies which will also help move us to a low-carbon, cleaner future.
What next for campaigning on climate change? As with many of these things, the Climate Change Act victory is a case of having won a battle, but not the war. Your support is still needed with the following campaigns to ensure we do all we can to protect species, habitats and people from the worst impacts of climate change.
As a founder member of Stop Climate Chaos, WWF will continue to campaign with partner organisations to call on the government to reject plans to build a new coal-fired power station in Kingsnorth in Kent, and instead encourage investment in energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy.
Strong UK climate change legislation should help set the level of ambition and commitment at an international level – in Europe and globally. Together with Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe and Greenpeace Europe, WWF is campaigning for the EU to show leadership in the development of its ‘Climate and Energy Package’ – proposals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions at a European level.
WWF will soon start its most ambitious campaign ever to deliver a new and ambitious international agreement on climate change.
Ambitious Climate Change Bill Passed in UK
Carbonica fully supports the UK's Climate Change Bill, including amendments for emissions generated by aviation and shipping. We believe that this Bill is exemplary, and we very much hope that it will have an event-less transit through the House of Lords and become law, therefore making Britain a pioneer and world leader in climate change legislation.
By Deborah Summers, Damian Carrington and agencies
October 16 2008
The government today committed the UK to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 80% by the middle of the century in a bid to tackle climate change.
In a move that was widely welcomed by environmental campaigners, Ed Miliband, the new energy and climate change secretary, said that the current 60% target would be replaced by the higher goal in the climate change bill.
Miliband told MPs that the tough economic conditions were not an excuse to "row back" on the commitment to tackle global warming.
He accepted the recommendations of the government-appointed Climate Change Committee, chaired by Lord Turner, which said last week that the UK ought to commit to an 80% reduction from 1990 levels for all greenhouse gases and covering all sectors.
He also pledged to amend the energy bill to create "feed-in tariffs", allowing small-scale energy producers – such as homes with wind turbines or solar panels – to sell electricity at a guaranteed price.
And he issued a warning to energy companies to act "in a satisfactory way" to reduce charges for customers with pre-payment meters and those not connected to the gas main.
He said the government expects "rapid action or explanation to remedy any abuses" and warned if the firms do not act then ministers would consult on legislation to prevent "unfair pricing".
Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace's chief scientist, said: "This is a hugely encouraging first move from the new climate change secretary. In a decade in power Labour has never adopted a target so ambitious, far-reaching and internationally significant as this.
"To meet it will require determined action from Gordon Brown and every one of his successors for the next four decades. Hard choices will be made that will touch every Briton, but it can and must be done."
He added: "Ed Miliband obviously understands the urgency of the threat we face from climate change. He is absolutely right to say Britain should set an example to the rest of the world in tackling this issue, and we will support him wholeheartedly if the decisions he takes in the coming weeks and months genuinely reflect this ambition."
Ruth Davis, the head of climate change at the RSPB [The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds], said: "This is one of the most far-sighted and far-reaching climate change initiative any government could take and is testament to the efforts of campaigners."
Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth's executive director, said: "Miliband's admission that pollution from international aviation and shipping will be dealt with outside the bill is a sign that these industries are being picked out for special treatment yet again.
"The Committee on Climate Change made it clear that we have to reduce all carbon emissions by 80%. We cannot leave the cuts in aviation and shipping emissions to chance."
Miliband, making his first statement to the Commons as head of the newly created department, said: "In tough economic times, some people ask whether we should retreat from our climate-change objectives.
"In our view it would be quite wrong to row back and those who say we should misunderstand the relationship between the economic and environmental tasks we face."
The 2006 Stern report showed that the costs of doing nothing "are greater than the costs of acting", he said.
The climate change bill would be amended to set the higher target, which "will be binding in law".
Miliband said: "However, we all know that signing up to an 80% target in 2050 when most of us will not be around is the easy part. The hard part is meeting it and meeting the milestones that will show we're on track."
The Climate Change Committee will advise on the first 15 years of carbon budgets in December, "national limits to our total emissions within which we will have to live as a country".
The announcement on feed-in tariffs will be welcomed by Labour backbenchers, who staged the biggest revolt of Gordon Brown's leadership over the issue.
In April, 35 backbenchers rebelled on the issue during debate on the energy bill, with two more Labour MPs acting as tellers.
Miliband said: "Having heard the debate on this issue, including from many colleagues in this house, on this side of the house and on others, I also believe that complementing the renewables obligation for large-scale projects, guaranteed prices for small-scale electricity generation – feed-in tariffs – have the potential to play an important role, as they do in other countries."
Last week Ofgem, the energy regulator, highlighted "unjustified" higher charges for 4 million customers without mains gas.
The regulator also believes that many homes using pre-payment meters - often the poorest customers - are being "overcharged".
Miliband said: "Unfair pricing which hits the most vulnerable hardest is completely unacceptable. I made that clear to the representatives of the big six energy companies when I met them yesterday.
"I also told them that the government expects rapid action or explanation to remedy any abuses. I will meet them again in a month to hear what they have done."
He added: "If the companies don't act in a satisfactory way, and speedily, then we will consult on legislation to prevent unfair pricing differentials."
Miliband said the measures announced today were part of an energy and climate change policy "that is fair and sustainable, which meets our obligations to today's and future generations".
Clark said there had been a "decade-long void" in the government's policy towards energy, in which "successive ministers have looked the other way rather than address the issue of future energy needs".
He welcomed the acceptance of Turner's 80% target, saying: "We have always said that we should be guided by the science on that matter."
But he called for the target to be kept under constant review, saying that just eight years ago 60% was considered to be the right number.
Clark also pressed Miliband to "lead the world" on carbon capture and storage by committing to three UK-based demonstration projects and said smart metering should be introduced for microgeneration.
- Set a target for the year 2050 for the reduction of targeted greenhouse gas emissions;
- to provide for a system of carbon budgeting;
- to establish a Committee on Climate Change;
- to confer powers to establish trading schemes for the purpose of limiting greenhouse gas emissions or encouraging activities that reduce such emissions or remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere;
- to make provision about adaptation to climate change;
- to confer powers to make schemes for providing financial incentives to produce less domestic waste and to recycle more of what is produced;
- to make provision about the collection of household waste;
- to confer powers to make provision about charging for single use carrier bags;
- to amend the provisions of the Energy Act 2004 about renewable transport fuel obligations;
- to make other provision about climate change; and
- for connected purposes
Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
Carbon target and budgeting
1. The target for 2050
(2) “The 1990 baseline” means the amount of net UK emissions of targeted greenhouse gases for the year 1990.
2. Amendment of 2050 target or baseline year
(a) amend the percentage specified in section 1(1);
(b) amend section 1 to provide for a different year to be the baseline year.
(2) The power in subsection (1)(a) may only be exercised—
(a) if it appears to the Secretary of State that there have been significant developments in—
(i) scientific knowledge about climate change, or
(ii) European or international law or policy, that make it appropriate to do so, or
(b) in connection with the making of—
(i) an order under section 23 (designation of further greenhouse gases as targeted greenhouse gases), or
(ii) regulations under section 29 (emissions from international aviation or international shipping).
(a) in relation to the first exercise of the power in subsection (1)(a), developments since June 2000 (the date of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's 22nd Report, “Energy - the Changing Climate”);
(b) in relation to a subsequent exercise of that power, developments since the evidential basis for the previous exercise was established.
(4) The power in subsection (1)(b) may only be exercised if it appears to the Secretary of State that there have been significant developments in European or international law or policy that make it appropriate to do so.
(6) An order under this section is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.
...4. Carbon budgets
(1) It is the duty of the Secretary of State—
(a) to set for each succeeding period of five years beginning with the period 2008-2012 (“budgetary periods”) an amount for the net UK carbon account (the “carbon budget”), and
(b) to ensure that the net UK carbon account for a budgetary period does not exceed the carbon budget.
(2) The carbon budget for a budgetary period may be set at any time after this Part comes into force, and must be set—
(a) for the periods 2008-2012, 2013-2017 and 2018-2022, before 1st June 2009;
(b) for any later period, not later than 30th June in the 12th year before the beginning of the period in question.
5. Level of carbon budgets
(1) The carbon budget—
(a) for the budgetary period including the year 2020, must be such that the annual equivalent of the carbon budget for the period is at least 26% lower than the 1990 baseline;
(b) for the budgetary period including the year 2050, must be such that the annual equivalent of the carbon budget for the period is lower than the 1990 baseline by at least the percentage specified in section 1 (the target for 2050);
(c) for the budgetary period including any later year specified by order of the Secretary of State, must be such that the annual equivalent of the carbon budget for the period is—
(i) lower than the 1990 baseline by at least the percentage so specified, or
(ii) at least the minimum percentage so specified, and not more than the maximum percentage so specified, lower than the 1990 baseline.
(2) The “annual equivalent”, in relation to the carbon budget for a period, means the amount of the carbon budget for the period divided by the number of years in the period.
(3) An order under this section is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.
6. Amendment of target percentages
(1) The Secretary of State may by order amend—
(a) the percentage specified in section 5(1)(a);
(b) any percentage specified under section 5(1)(c).
(2) That power may only be exercised—
(a) if it appears to the Secretary of State that there have been significant developments in—
(i) scientific knowledge about climate change, or
(ii) European or international law or policy, that make it appropriate to do so, or
(b) in connection with the making of—
(i) an order under section 23 (designation of further greenhouse gases as targeted greenhouse gases), or
(ii) regulations under section 29 (emissions from international aviation or international shipping).
(3) The developments in scientific knowledge referred to in subsection (2)(a) are—
(a) in relation to the first exercise of the power conferred by this section in relation to the percentage specified in section 5(1)(a), developments since June 2000 (the date of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s 22nd Report, “Energy - the Changing Climate”);
(b) in relation to the first exercise of the power conferred by this section in relation to any percentage specified under section 5(1)(c), developments since the evidential basis for the order setting that percentage was established;
(c) in relation to a subsequent exercise of any of those powers, developments since the evidential basis for the previous exercise was established.
(4) An order under this section is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.
...Targeted greenhouse gases
(1) In this Part a “targeted greenhouse gas” means—
(a) carbon dioxide, and
(b) any other greenhouse gas designated as a targeted greenhouse gas by order made by the Secretary of State.
(2) The order may make such consequential amendments of the provisions of this Act as appear to the Secretary of State to be necessary or expedient.
(3) Before making an order under this section, the Secretary of State must—
(a) consult the other national authorities, and
(b) obtain, and take into account, the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.
(4) As soon as is reasonably practicable after giving its advice to the Secretary of State, the Committee must publish that advice in such manner as it considers appropriate.
(5) If the order makes provision different from that recommended by the Committee, the Secretary of State must publish a statement setting out the reasons for that decision.
(6) The statement may be published in such manner as the Secretary of State thinks fit.
(2) The Secretary of State may by order define what is to be regarded for this purpose as international aviation or international shipping. Any such order is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.
(3) The Secretary of State must, before the end of the period of five years beginning with the passing of this Act—
(a) make provision by regulations as to the circumstances in which, and the extent to which, emissions from international aviation or international shipping are to be regarded for the purposes of this Part as emissions from sources in the United Kingdom, or
(b) lay before Parliament a report explaining why regulations making such provision have not been made.
(4) The expiry of the period mentioned in subsection (3) does not affect the power of the Secretary of State to make regulations under this section.
(5) Regulations under this section—
(a) may make provision only in relation to emissions of a targeted greenhouse gas;
(b) may, in particular, provide for such emissions to be regarded as emissions from sources in the United Kingdom if they relate to the transport of passengers or goods to or from the United Kingdom.
(6) Regulations under this section may make provision—
(a) as to the period or periods (whether past or future) in which emissions of the targeted greenhouse gas are to be taken into account as UK emissions of that gas, and
(b) as to the manner in which such emissions are to be taken into account in determining the 1990 baseline in relation to those periods.
(7) They may, in particular—
(a) designate a different base year, or
(b) designate a number of base years, and provide for the emissions in that year, or the average amount of emissions in those years, to be taken into account as if part of the 1990 baseline.
(1) Before making regulations under section 29, the Secretary of State must obtain, and take into account, the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.
(2) As soon as is reasonably practicable after giving its advice to the Secretary of State, the Committee must publish that advice in such manner as it considers appropriate.
(3) If the regulations make provision different from that recommended by the Committee, the Secretary of State must publish a statement setting out the reasons for that decision.
(4) The statement may be published in such manner as the Secretary of State thinks fit.
The Committee on Climate Change
(1) There shall be a body corporate to be known as the Committee on Climate Change or, in Welsh, as y Pwyllgor ar Newid Hinsawdd (referred to in this Part as “the Committee”).
(2) Schedule 1 contains further provisions about the Committee.
(a) whether the percentage specified in section 1(1) (the target for 2050) should be amended, and
(b) if so, what the amended percentage should be.
(2) Advice given by the Committee under this section must also contain the reasons for that advice.
(3) The Committee must give its advice under this section before 1st December 2008.
(4) The Committee must, at the time it gives its advice under this section to the Secretary of State, send a copy to the other national authorities.
(5) As soon as is reasonably practicable after giving its advice to the Secretary of State, the Committee must publish that advice in such manner as it considers appropriate.
33. Advice in connection with carbon budgets
(1) It is the duty of the Committee to advise the Secretary of State, in relation to each budgetary period, on—
(a) the level of the carbon budget for the period,
(b) the extent to which the carbon budget for the period should be met—
(i) by reducing the amount of net UK emissions of targeted greenhouse gases, or
(c) the respective contributions towards meeting the carbon budget for the period that should be made—
(ii) by the sectors of the economy not so covered (taken as a whole), and
(2) In relation to the budgetary period 2008-2012, the Committee must also advise the Secretary of State on—
(a) whether it would be consistent with its advice on the level of the carbon budget for the period to set a carbon budget such that the annual equivalent for the period was lower than the 1990 baseline by 20%, and
(3) Advice given by the Committee under this section must also contain the reasons for that advice.
(4) The Committee must give its advice under this section—
(a) for the budgetary periods 2008-2012, 2013-2017 and 2018-2022, before 1st December 2008;
(b) for any later period, not later than six months before the last date for setting the carbon budget for the period (see section 4(2)(b)).
(5) The Committee must, at the time it gives its advice under this section to the Secretary of State, send a copy to the other national authorities.
(6) As soon as is reasonably practicable after giving its advice under this section the Committee must publish that advice in such manner as it considers appropriate.
(1) The Committee may do anything that appears to it necessary or appropriate for the purpose of, or in connection with, the carrying out of its functions.
(2) In particular the Committee may—
(a) enter into contracts,
(b) acquire, hold and dispose of property,
(c) borrow money,
(d) accept gifts, and
(e) invest money.
(3) In exercising its functions, the Committee may—
(a) gather information and carry out research and analysis,
(b) commission others to carry out such activities, and
(c) publish the results of such activities carried out by the Committee or others.
(4) The Committee must have regard to the desirability of involving the public in the exercise of its functions.