Committee on Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissions

The Committee on Climate Change is the independent advisor on emissions - yet at present it is being prevented from investigating the ongoing rise in UK emissions.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is the UK government’s independent advisor on greenhouse gas emissions. Yet at present it is being prevented from investigating the ongoing rise in UK emissions.

As Left Foot Forward reported earlier this year, the UK’s carbon emissions continue to rise when viewed from a consumption perspective: domestic emissions are down, but our lifestyles are as dependent on carbon as ever, as can be seen once you factor in imported goods and services.


You would have thought this would merit investigation by the CCC. Indeed, they’re very keen to do so. Yet to date the government has turned down every proposal to let them. This bizarre situation has arisen out of negligence, budget cuts and calculated political decision.

For many years now the government has been well aware of the inconvenient truth about ‘outsourced emissions’, yet has resisted taking meaningful steps to address them.

Left Foot Forward also understands that at one stage, a ministerial special adviser at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) attempted to block publication of publicly-funded research showing the true scale of outsourced emissions, though they were unsuccessful in doing so.

It is now understood that resistance to taking action has shifted from DEFRA to DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change), where budget cuts have forced a scaling-back of activities to those considered ‘core competencies’.

Because outsourced emissions are neither counted by the UK nor covered by the Climate Act, their continued rise goes unattended – though they continue to heat the planet. The Committee on Climate Change knows this, but is powerless to launch an enquiry until given a mandate and requisite budget by DECC.

Yet so far, the government seems to think that doing nothing is the lower-risk option.

When pressed on the subject back in 2009, its stock response was to say ‘let’s wait until after Copenhagen’, perhaps hoping a global climate deal would negate some of the problems of outsourced emissions.

After the failure of the Copenhagen talks, the government’s excuse switched, instead pleading:

“…the committee [on climate change] has more than enough work to do in the next year to keep it busy.”

Too busy to investigate rising emissions? The mind boggles.

Most recently, Minister of State Greg Barker has simply refused to make the call, stating:

“The government have no immediate plans to ask the CCC to undertake work on outsourced emissions.”

But now pressure is building on government to make that call.

Recently the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change issued a report demanding action be taken:

“Increasingly the UK’s carbon footprint lies not in the direct emissions within our borders but in the emissions generated in production of goods for UK consumption. The Committee on Climate Change should be tasked with examining whether the UK could develop a pragmatic methodology for assessing and addressing these emissions.”

Last week, a conference on outsourced emissions organised by UKERC (the UK Energy Research Council) and Leeds University brought together academics and policymakers, underlining the breadth of current research into the matter. Presentations were given by representatives from DEFRA, the Carbon Trust, WRAP (Working together for a world without waste) and multiple universities – but DECC staff, though invited, were noticeable by their absence.

Speaking to the Guardian recently, Greg Barker appeared to give ground on the issue, acknowledging the:

“…need to build an economy that has more advanced manufacturing where we stop just reducing our carbon emissions by sending stuff offshore to less regulated markets.”

If Mr Barker’s professed concern is sincere, he will unshackle his advisers, and give the Committee on Climate Change the freedom to investigate. After all, what does he have to hide?

21 Responses to “Committee on Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissions”

  1. carbonmeme

    RT @leftfootfwd Committee on #Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissions: writes @GuyShrubsole //bit.ly/qd2mkk

  2. Climate News

    Committee on Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissions – Left Foot Forward //bit.ly/oOuuHj

  3. Ana Pérez

    Committee on Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissions – Left Foot Forward //bit.ly/oOuuHj

  4. MARY RODRIGUEZ

    Committee on Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissions – Left Foot Forward //bit.ly/oOuuHj

  5. Climate Safety

    Committee on Climate Change must be freed to investigate rising emissions – new blog: //t.co/VBJCfoE #outsourcedCO2 #climatechange

  6. Climate Safety

    @ChrisHuhne @DECCgovuk Committee on Climate Change must be freed to investigate rising emissions – here's why: //t.co/VBJCfoE

  7. Climate Safety

    @2050target @jimskea @UKERCHQ Committee on Climate Change must be freed to investigate rising emissions – new blog: //t.co/VBJCfoE

  8. Climate Safety

    @bisgovuk @DefraGovUK Committee on Climate Change must be freed to investigate rising emissions – here's why: //t.co/VBJCfoE

  9. Climate

    RT @leftfootfwd Committee on #Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissions: writes @GuyShrubsole //bit.ly/qd2mkk

  10. Michael Stryder

    Committee on Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissions //bit.ly/qkscUN

  11. Northern Worker

    I’ve said it before on this website and I’ll say it again. All this climate change stuff is screwing up our economy and costing jobs by exporting good factory jobs to China and India – and the carbon too.

    This weekend, the Australian government imposed a punitive tax on carbon, which will cost jobs. Will it make any difference? What effect will Australia’s new carbon dioxide tax have on the world temperature? A leading climate scientist – Professor Richard Lindzen (MIT) said: “I don’t think anyone could possibly detect it. It would be nothing, for all practical purposes, and it would be nothing if the whole world did the same.”

    So exactly what difference will it make to sacrifice my job and hundreds of thousands of others? Why don’t you investigate and blog about this? Answer the questions: “If the UK reduces carbon by 30%, how many jobs will be lost and when will we see favourable changes to the world’s climate and what reduction in world average temperature will there be?”

  12. Rob Jarrett

    Committee on Climate Change must be freed to investigate rising emissions – new blog: //t.co/VBJCfoE #outsourcedCO2 #climatechange

  13. Guy S

    Northern Worker – the point is that globalised markets are causing labour, capital and emissions to effectively migrate around the world. Carbon prices / taxes / trading schemes aren’t causing jobs or emissions to migrate, it’s lower labour and capital costs in developing countries that is driving that.

    Unless a strong price on carbon is introduced – or can be felt – everywhere globally, then it’s likely emissions will continue to be outsourced.

  14. Northern Worker

    Guy – you haven’t answered my question. But you have posed another. How are you going to get China, Brazil, India and Russia to cooperate in this grand scheme?

  15. Leon Wolfson

    Lindzen is one of the few anti-AGW scientists with a credible record. However, he is just that – one of the few, and his views are massively against the weight of evidence, and the consensus in the field.

    If we don’t act, them the BRIC’s won’t. And Russia can be dealt with once we’re weaned off gas, via building nuclear plants. THEN, we can talk about taxes AS-IF energy sources had had carbon floors attached.

    The actions being taken in the UK are wrong in detail (especially in that they’re pushing up bills to fund inefficient installations), but the object is good.

  16. Knut Cayce

    RT @leftfootfwd: Committee on Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissions //t.co/peB4eVE

  17. Carbon tax governance a real growth industry – The Australian | My Blog

    […] Globe's Not Only Getting Hotter, It's More Unjust and Unstable, TooHuffington PostCommittee on Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissionsLeft Foot ForwardiTWire -Voxy -ShareCastall 266 news […]

  18. Carbon Tax a boost for green management technology – iTWire | My Blog

    […] in systems to manage energy use efficiently and to report on related compliance issues. …Committee on Climate Change must be free to investigate rising emissionsLeft Foot ForwardLow and slow: what's the point?ABC OnlineGovernments Versus The Markets on […]

  19. jfreed27

    A national carbon tax (all fees rebated) would reduce emissions by 50% in 20 years. And the economy would grow in jobs and GDP. The rebates neutralize price spikes in dirty energy.

    A carbon tariff should be added which would reward all importing countries with a low carbon footprint.

    See a study done for the U.S. of such a tax at

    //citizensclimatelobby.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/REMI-carbon-tax-report-62141.pdf

  20. Bob Bingham

    The economic consequences of climate change are so dire and the simple facts so well understood that avoiding any action is a purely political decision and has nothing to do with reason and reports. //www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/climate-threats.html

  21. zlop

    We have the evidence of Willie, the instant frozen Woolly Mammoth.
    As we descend into the Ice Age “Some northern countries might have to be abandoned with a full on Ice Age as the ice marches down and crushes everything below it”

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