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Climate change programme will fail to deliver

12 February 2003


The Government's Climate Change Programme is in danger of failing to deliver on its key goal, unless action is taken now, the Sustainable Development Commission said today.

Publishing an audit of the Programme, Commission Chairman Jonathon Porritt said:

'Our analysis shows that the UK will fall well short of the Government's goal for
reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, unless further measures are taken.

'However, we believe the UK is likely to achieve its Kyoto target for reductions in greenhouse gases as a whole. Few other countries can claim that. It is a positive point, which we must build on in encouraging greater efforts internationally.'

The Commission says that:

- The measures to achieve the Government goal, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2010, are simply not in place. The UK is
unlikely to achieve even two-thirds of that reduction, and maybe less than half.

- This is not a reason to abandon the goal, but to redouble efforts to achieve it. There is still time to do so.

- And there are great benefits, not only for the long term by helping to slow global climate change, but immediately through business opportunities for lowcarbon technologies and by giving ourselves a better quality of life all round.

- The emissions reductions from the 10 year transport plan are particularly at risk. And international air travel, not even included in the calculations or the goal, threatens to blow away all the good work in industry and other sectors.

'These are disturbing findings. The Government must now seize the opportunity of
using the energy White Paper to bring us back on track for 2010, and set us on a
low-carbon path into the longer term,'
concludes Jonathon Porritt.

Notes for editors

1. The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) is the Government's independent sustainable development advisor, reporting to Tony Blair and the
devolved administration leaders. The Commission's objectives include advocating a compelling vision of a sustainable economy and society, and reviewing how far sustainable development is being achieved in the UK across all sectors.

2. Sustainable development provides a framework for redirecting our economies to enable everyone to meet their basic needs and improve their quality of life while ensuring that the natural resources on which they depend are maintained and
enhanced, both for their benefit and for that of future generations.

3. The SDC has today published its audit of the Government's Climate Change Programme. The full report comprises two elements:

- a technical audit of the Programme, undertaken by Edinburgh Centre for Carbon
Management Ltd for the Commission;
- the Commission's report, drawing out its summary assessment of the consultants' report and including a call for the Government to develop new
policy measures, within the Programme and more widely, to get the UK onto the path to deeper cuts in carbon emissions in the longer term.

4. The key findings of the Commission's audit are:

- Without further measures, the UK will fall well short of the domestic goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2010.
- The Kyoto Protocol target, of reducing total greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5%
from 1990 levels over the period 2008-12, will be achieved.
- Looking beyond 2010, the UK projections do not yet show the radical shift
needed towards a low carbon path, nor are the policies in place to achieve
more sustainable patterns of energy generation and consumption.
- Additional measures are required now, to bolster the Programme itself and to
establish the groundwork for a low-carbon economy in the longer term.
- Political leadership is required to set this process in train, and to provide clarity
of long-term intentions. The forthcoming energy White Paper provides a major
opportunity for the Government to demonstrate such leadership.

5. The Government will be embarking on a review of the Programme later this
year; the Commission's audit is a contribution to that exercise.

6. The SDC is undertaking a major area-based project to identify and promote carbon reduction measures: dCARB-uk

7. The Commission is also making available copies of the summary and recommendations of its response to the Government's consultation on energy
policy, submitted in November 2002.

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