Government to miss 'half of green targets'

The government is set to miss over half of its green targets
The government is set to miss over half of its green targets

The government is set to miss over half of the green targets it has set since 1997, a new report has claimed today.

The think-tank Policy Exchange said today that out of 138 high-level targets surveyed, 60 per cent have been "missed, are unlikely to be achieved, or are worded so vaguely as to make meaningful analysis impossible".

The report added that two-thirds of key climate change targets appear unlikely to be met, while 88 per cent of biodiversity targets have already been missed.

The head of Policy Exchange's environment unit, Tara Singh, examined 132 White Papers, speeches and publications since 1997.

Today's report criticised the UK culture of continually setting targets, claiming they were set "without the policy drivers, notably finance and interim benchmarking, required to meet them".

"Many targets are so vague or so long-term as to be all but meaningless while others are the responsibility of so many departments and agencies that no-one feels responsible for policy delivery," the Policy Exchange said.

Ms Singh attacked the government for its target of reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 which first included aviation and then dropped it.

"The atmosphere does not care about accounting tricks: it cares about the amount of carbon in the air. Trying to take some of the UK's carbon emissions off our carbon balance sheet is fundamentally dishonest - and potentially very dangerous in the fight to tackle climate change," she said.

"As time passes and targets are missed, the Government finds it politically convenient to set increasingly nebulous objectives. In 2006 a target was set for 'all new homes to be zero carbon within a decade' but in the first month of 2008, just 3 zero carbon homes were built."

The think-tank also accused the government of 'spinning' targets and claimed that targets were often set in the absence of a commitment to turn the plans into action.

"There are too many, too complex targets without specific and attainable goals, set far in advance but measured continually. There also needs to be a more open and transparent approach to reporting. Our environment does not benefit just because a target is set, only when it is ambitious and is subsequently achieved," Ms Singh concluded.

The Conservative shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, Peter Ainsworth, attacked the government, claiming: "This Labour Government is failing lamentably to live up to its own green spin and this report reveals an abject under performance. It is becoming increasingly clear that despite the political rhetoric there is no political will to make our country a greener and safer place to live."


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