Has the ‘greenest government ever’ given up on carbon budgets?

In the wake of the draft Energy Bill, it is time to make sure the government sticks by its commitments and reduces emissions in line with the carbon budgets.

This is Chris Huhne, or to those of you new to politics, “Chris Who??”

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Reg Platt is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)

In May 2011, Chris Huhne announced the government would sign up to the target for the fourth climate change budget period from 2023-2027, as laid out by the Committee on Climate Change.

Chris-HuhneThe target specifies that UK emissions during this period should not exceed 1,950 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, a 50% reduction from 1990 levels. A potential caveat included in Huhne’s announcement was that this target would be reviewed in 2014 to ensure it was in line with EU carbon targets.

As Joss Garman from Greenpeace spotted yesterday it looks like the government has already decided to back out of these targets.

In Chapter 6 of the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCCadvice to government on the fourth climate change budget it states (p. 293, pdf):

“The carbon intensity of power will need to fall from around 500g/kWh today to 50g/kWh in 2030.”

In the Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) impact assessment published today with the Energy Bill, the government states (p. 13, pdf):

“100gCO2/kWh [is the] average emissions intensity ambition in 2030.”

100gCO2/kWh was the original target put forward for 2030 by the Committee on Climate Change – not the revised target as included in the fourth climate budget. There is a 50gCO2/kWh gap in the government’s ambitions that must be explained if we are to believe it is committed to meeting the carbon budgets.

As it stands the emissions performance standard could blow the carbon budgets out of the water.


See also:

The Energy Bill should have included clauses to protect consumers 22 May 2012

Tories mount a campaign against their own energy policy 17 Apr 2012

We need more community and co-operative ownership of energy 13 Mar 2012


The EPS impact assessment (pdf) states that gas generators will be permitted to continue to pollute at 450g/C02kWh up until 2045 – 400g/CO2kWh above the average level specified for the power sector in the carbon budgets for 2030. Nowhere has the government explained how this is commensurate with achieving 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 as specified in the Climate Change Act.

According to the BBC’s Roger Harrabin, the CCC last night called the government’s treatment of carbon targets in the draft Energy Bill:

“Unhelpful and creating more uncertainty.”

The Energy Bill is the most important piece of legislation this government will introduce on climate change policy. It is now up to Parliament to make sure the government sticks by its commitments and reduces emissions in line with the carbon budgets.


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  • John

    “Has the ‘greenest government ever’ given up on carbon budgets? ”

    For all our sakes, let’s hope so!

    And it’s long overdue for The Left to revisit some of the abject green nonsense that it’s swallowed wholesale over the past 15-20 years and attempt to piece together a rational approach to energy costs, supply and reliability that will not drive millions more into fuel poverty in the years to come.

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  • http://tomyoungman.tumblr.com/ Tom Y

    The cost of not acting on climate change is what will really drive millions around the globe into poverty. For consumers in the UK, the cost of not acting on climate change is also huge – acting now is a good long-term investment decision. See the Stern Report, for example, for evidence of this.

    This isn’t to mention the cost of fossil fuels is already rising, and will rise further. Volatile gas prices have taken hundreds of thousands in the UK into hardship recently. Investing in renewable, low-carbon energy now is the best way we can protect the public from this in the future. Already some renewable energy companies (Good Energy, http://www.goodenergy.co.uk/) are cheaper than suppliers (e.g. Scottish & Southern) using largely fossil fuel to generate electricity.

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  • Anonymous

    The method the UK has taken is madness, especially in “renewable obligations”, which strongly encourage building wind plants which will NEVER be economically viable. “Investing” in energy which is 4-5 times the price of Nuclear, especially since many wind plants are grossly over-rated, and may *require* energy at some peak times (Solar? 7-10 years off viability at this latitude).

    “Good Energy” is a parasite without sufficient base load power to exist without the other energy companies, and should be surcharged for it.

    We need a program of building nuclear energy plants. France’s level should be a goal, and this should count in British law as a reduction – because it DOES reduce carbon outputs!

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