MPs stand firm on carbon targets

A select committee of MPs has stood firm against pressure from environmentalists to change the government’s carbon reduction targets.

The draft climate change bill stipulates a 60 per cent reduction in carbon emission by 2050, but environmental groups claim that is insufficient to prevent a devastating two degree rise in temperature.

The committee on environment, food and rural affairs, which is reviewing and suggesting amendments to the draft bill, accepted the evidence for a more drastic cut, but refrained from directly advising the government to implement more strident measures.

“Whilst we agree with the substantial amount of evidence calling for the 2050 target to be higher than 60 per cent, we recognise that this target itself is still extremely ambitious,” the committee said.

“We are not in a position to suggest whether the 2050 target should be higher than 60 per cent.”

Instead, the committee transferred responsibility for a possible raise in the cut to a separate committee on climate change, due to be established as part of the climate change cill.

“We recommend that the first task of the committee on climate change should be to assess the current state of knowledge regarding climate science in order to determine what the 2050 target should be and the trajectory for achieving it,” the select committee explained.

The MPs also called for the future committee to be given considerably more funding than had already been put aside.

They said: “Our evidence suggests that the resources proposed for the committee on climate change may quickly prove to be inadequate.

“We recommend that adequate resources are made available to the committee on climate change for a ‘bespoke’ emissions forecasting model to be developed.”

Environmental groups were not overly concerned by the announcement however. Spokespeople seemed very confident any independent body would corroborate their arguments.

Martyn Williams, parliamentary campaigner for Friends of the Earth, told no independent scientific body would ever conclude a cut below 80 per cent could be sufficient.

He said: “If it’s a genuinely independent committee looking at what the figure should be then we’re happy with that.

“There’s no way they can come up with anything less than 80 per cent if they want to stay below a two degree rise in temperature.

“There are no scientists that claim a 60 per cent cut is enough,” he claimed.