MPs call for more action on climate change

The UK needs to take “great action” on climate change or it will miss its commitment to cutting carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, MPs have warned.

The environmental audit committee’s report on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) points to underperformance in the scheme so far, concluding the “record in reducing carbon emissions is far less impressive”.

Although the administration of ETS has been impressive, its results have been less so, the MPs found. Initial allowances to emit emissions were overly generous, making the market price of carbon too low and the scheme ineffective.

The UK government was praised for leading the way in pushing for a cap of emissions, but will need to do more to persuade other EU states of the need for firmer action and should campaign for an EU-wide cap on emissions.

More must also be done to reduce the environmental impact of the aviation industry, it warned.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the environmental audit committee, concluded: “The government must not shy away from the truth that emissions trading in itself is not a miracle cure for global warming, nor will it be painless,” he added.

The report forecast UK carbon emissions in 2010 will be only halfway to meeting the 20 per cent target in a “very significant shortfall”, the report warned.

MPs called for the forthcoming climate change bill to be strengthened, requiring the government to annually report to parliament the UK’s progress on reducing emissions.

It has a “democratic duty” to do so, the committee argued, having made “political capital” out of the 2010 target and including it as a manifesto commitment.

The report also warned that the current target to reduce emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 may not be enough to combat climate change.

However, environment minister David Miliband favours a 60 per cent cut. “It is not perfect” he conceded, notably because it excludes aviation, but should remain as it is “stretching enough to lead change domestically and internationally.”