LONDON Britain's goal of cutting emissions of
climate warming carbon dioxide by 60 percent by 2050 will be
reviewed by the end of the year and may be raised, Environment
Secretary Hilary Benn said on Monday.
The goal is at the heart of the Climate Change Bill
currently going through parliament which is expected to become
law within three months.
"The scientific evidence has moved rapidly, and as part of
a new global climate deal, developed countries may have to cut
their emissions by as much as 80 per cent by 2050. That's why
we announced a review of the UK target last year," Benn said.
"This review will now be a statutory duty, and I've asked
the committee to provide their advice on both the 2050 target
and on the first three carbon budgets by December 1 this year,"
The bill sets up an independent committee to monitor
progress towards achieving the 2050 target, the interim goal of
cutting emissions by 26-32 percent by 2020 and the rolling
The government has been under relentless pressure both to
raise the core target and to set annual reduction targets
rather than the more vague rolling five-year carbon budgets.
Proposing several amendments to the bill as it heads
through the parliamentary process, Benn said the rolling
budgets would remain but there would also be indicative annual
ranges within them to make monitoring more meaningful.
"We welcome the government's announcement that it is going
to set annual target ranges for cutting emissions in the new
Climate Change Law," said Friends of the Earth. "The findings
of this review have brought us one step closer to a stronger
and more effective climate law."
The bill allows Britain to buy carbon emission credits
abroad to help towards meeting its national reduction targets,
an allowance critics see as a fundamental weakness.
It also contains provisions to allow the introduction of
new carbon trading schemes to help create the carbon price the
government says is vital to drive increased energy efficiency
and technical innovation.
Another provision of the bill will force the government to
regularly assess the impact of climate change on Britain and
report to parliament.
(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; editing by James Jukwey)