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Meeting climate change emissions targets

26 February 2006

"New taxes on road and air travel are needed if the UK is to meet greenhouse gas targets, a watchdog has warned" BBC News, 22nd June

"Car tax should rise tenfold to force drivers to buy more fuel efficient vehicles" The Times, 22nd June

"The spotlight has moved to climate change" Jonathon Porritt, Observer 26th June

"Mr Blair's own environmental advisor, Jonathon Porritt, yesterday called on him to do more to tackle the pollution that causes climate change at home". Geoffrey Lean, Independent on Sunday, 26th June

"Growth areas should become carbon neutral, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) insisted this week". Planning, 24th June


Government must show a different quality of leadership to deliver climate change emissions targets.

The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) is urging the Government to meet domestic emissions targets to encourage international action on climate change. The SDC's report calls for urgent action in the UK to make up an annual shortfall of at least ten million tonnes in carbon reductions, through radical new charges on vehicles and aviation, greater household energy efficiency and a carbon neutral public sector.

The report - a summary of a full submission into the Government's Climate Change Programme Review, expected to report later this year - proposes a range of measures designed to save at least ten million tonnes of carbon, which is needed to meet the Government's target of a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2010.

The SDC Chairman Jonathon Porritt said: "With so much attention focused on the G8 Summit in July, and on the role of the United States in particular, it would be all too easy for the Government to neglect what's going on in its own backyard. The UK has a massive gap to fill if we are to get back on track in meeting our 2010 target of a 20 per cent cut in CO2 emissions - and the signs at the moment do not look good. This is the real test of the UK Government's leadership in this area, whatever may or may not emerge from the G8 Summit".

The SDC is urging the Government to:

  • Adopt three new targets where radical carbon emission savings are needed:

- A 60 per cent cut in carbon emissions from buildings (over 1990 levels) by 2050
- A 50 per cent cut in carbon emissions from road transport by 2025 (over 1990 levels)
- A carbon neutral public sector by 2020

• Step up energy efficiency measures, for example by setting the next phase of the Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC) - which requires electricity and gas suppliers to promote improvements in domestic energy efficiency - at a level which will triple the savings achieved through earlier phases.
• Set radical new levels of Vehicle Excise Duty to tackle road transport emissions (currently 24 per cent of our total emissions) and encourage take-up of lower
emission vehicles.
• Review current road charging proposals to ensure they dramatically reduce emissions as well as tackling congestion.
• Immediately impose an emissions charge on all internal air travel, followed by a
charge on all aircraft leaving the UK.
• Invest revenue from the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation into a new Climate Change Challenge Fund to support local authorities and communities in pursuing ambitious carbon saving projects.
• On no account seek to fill the ten million tonne carbon gap by buying up carbon savings from other countries.
• Give up its current action against the European Commission regarding the UK's National Allocation Plan under the EU's Emission Trading Scheme.

» Download the report
Printed copies are also available from the SDC.

About government targets:

The Kyoto Protocol came into force in February 2005 and covers 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and is a legally binding commitment. The UK's Kyoto target is to achieve a 12.5 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, averaged over the period 2008-2012.

The UK Government has also adopted the additional target of a 20 per cent cut in CO2 emissions by 2010. This was announced in the 2003 Energy White Paper as the first step in a strategy to achieve 60 per cent cuts in CO2 by 2050, and as part of the Government's desire to show international leadership on this issue.

The government's Climate Change Programme, announced in 2000, contains a basket of measures through which the UK Government intends to meet these targets. UK-wide measures include the Climate Change Levy for business, the Energy Efficiency Commitment for households, a commitment to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EUETS), and a raft of other measures to encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency. A revised programme is due to be announced later this year.

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