UK commits to 80% emissions cuts

19 November 2008

The UK will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% on 1990 levels by 2050, Ed Miliband, secretary of the newly formed Department of Energy and Climate Change, told the House of Commons.

In his first Commons statement since being appointed to the post, Miliband said that the UK's Climate Change Bill is to be amended to reflect the findings of a report by the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) chaired by Lord Adair Turner. The bill, which is nearing the end of its passage before parliament, previously called for a 60% cut over the same timescale.

Although the full results of the report have not yet been published, Lord Turner had already informed the government of its main recommendations: namely that the UK should aim to cut emissions of the six so-called Kyoto greenhouse gases by at least 80% by 2050 as an "appropriate UK contribution" to a global efforts to reduce emissions 50-60% over that period. The six gases covered by the Kyoto protocol are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.

In his Commons statement, Miliband said that the government accepted all of the CCC's recommendations and would amend the Climate Change Bill to make the 80% target legally binding, but the hard part would be meeting it. The CCC is to make recommendations on the 15 years of carbon budgets in December, setting national limits to total emissions, and the government will report on how it intends to meet them in 2009. Nonetheless, Miliband was clear that nuclear would have its part to play. "To respond to this new world we need a market that secures future supply, which must include investment in nuclear power and carbon capture and storage. We need a market that provides incentives for cuts in emissions and does more to help homes and businesses," he said.

Miliband also announced plans to amend the Energy Bill, also currently before the House, to complement the renewables obligation by introducing a "feed in tariff" guaranteeing prices for small-scale electricity generation.

And in the USA...

Yesterday, in a surprise video address to the Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, president-elect Obama said that his presidency would “mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change.”

He said it will start with a federal cap-and-trade system, and that he will set targets for reducing emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and cut them by an additional 80% by 2050 once in office. He also pleged to invest $15 billion a year in solar power, wind power, and biofuels and to "tap nuclear power, while making sure it’s safe."


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