UPDATE 1-Britain sticks with tough carbon target despite opposition

Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:08am EDT

* Retaining budget provides certainty for businesses

* Aims to boost confidence in low-carbon investments (Updates with comments from PwC)

By Susanna Twidale

LONDON, July 22 (Reuters) - Britain's government said it would stick with a goal to curb emissions by 2027 to 50 percent of 1990 levels, a target that has led to political opposition and that its own advisers have said will be hard to meet.

The country has set binding targets for greenhouse gases over four five-year periods to 2027, known as carbon budgets, which aim to put it on track towards cutting emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by the middle of the century.

"Retaining the budget at its existing level provides certainty for businesses and investors by demonstrating government's commitment to our long-term decarbonisation goals," Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The fourth carbon budget, covering the period from 2023 to 2027, has been a subject of debate among some politicians, who argue for a weaker emissions cut target to prevent damage to the economy.

Government advisers also have said altering the goals will undermine investor confidence in low-carbon technology.

"By sticking to its guns on carbon targets, the coalition government will help bring some much-needed investor confidence, and more importantly capital, into funding the transition to a low carbon economy," said Jon Williams, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The government has said that around 110 billion pounds ($188 billion) of investment in energy infrastructure is needed to replace ageing coal and nuclear plants and prevent power shortages into the 2020s.

The fourth carbon budget was set in 2011 but the government said it would decide in 2014 whether the budget should be revised to reflect progress in cutting emissions in the European Union.

"Any revision now would be premature, especially in light of the ongoing negotiations in the EU to agree a domestic 40 percent GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction target for 2030 by October," Davey said.

Last week, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said in a report to parliament that Britain risked missing the goals set in the fourth budget despite extensive reforms to its electricity market. ($1 = 0.5863 British Pounds) (editing by Jane Baird and Keiron Henderson)

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