People and Planet
Four of Britain’s leading environmental scientists have called on the Government to commit to tougher carbon emission cuts in the Climate Change Bill, now before parliament.
and two former Chairs of the Royal Commission on Environmental
Pollution (RCEP) have signed an open letter to the leaders
of the main political parties - published in today’s Times, Guardian, FT, Telegraph and Independent - stating that the government’s
emissions reduction target for CO2 is based on out-of-date science. The government’s current target of a 60 per cent reduction in the UK’s
CO2 emissions by 2050 is based on a report by the RCEP published in 2000.
Current RCEP Chair, Sir John Lawton, and his
predecessors, Sir Tom Blundell, chair at the time of the 2000 report
and Sir John Houghton,
together with Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, Professor Norman Myers, argue that the latest science - including the
Scientific Assessment Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change (IPCC) of February 2007, points to the need to cut the
UK’s CO2 emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050.
Sir John Houghton, the first Chair of Scientific
Assessment for the IPCC, said: “The UK has always been proud of its
leadership in the
issue of climate change. To keep in the lead, the government needs to keep in step with the science that is now strongly pointing towards cuts in emissions of at least 80 per cent by 2050 if we are to mitigate against dangerous climate change. Furthermore there is convincing
modelling to show that these cuts are achievable and affordable.
A recent report, published jointly by WWF-UK, ippr and the RSPB,80 pe cent Challenge: Delivering a low carbon Britain2,
found that it is technically feasible and affordable for the UK to cut
its CO2 emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 - including Britin's
share of emissions from international aviation and without using new
nuclear power. Alternative solutions could lie in energy efficiency and
a rapid roll out of renewable and decentralised energy, potentially
combined with fossil fuel power stations equipped with working carbon
capture and storage.
David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF, said:
“Today some of Britain’s most eminent climate and environmental scientists have added their voices to the growing calls for emission
cuts based on the latest science - that means cuts of at least 80 per cent by 2050. All the science points to the need to put the 80 per cent
target on the face of the Bill, which will also give business the long-term certainty they have called for to plan for a low carbon future.”
Recent statements by Sir Nicholas Stern, the
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the UN Human Development
Report 2007/2008 also make clear that developed countries must make
emissions reductions of at least 80 per cent by 2050.
WWF is also calling on the UK Government to include
emissions from international aviation and shipping in the Climate
In another effort to pressure MPs, the World
Development Movement issued a report showing that the proposed
Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent will release more carbon
dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere than Ghana’s total carbon emissions
each year according to new research from the World Development Movement
Benedict Southworth, director of the World
Development Movement said: “It is impossible for the government to
claim that they are pro-coal but anti-climate change. The fact that the
government is backing a new coal-fired power station that would release
more harmful carbon into the air than Ghana, which has a population of
22 million people, is deeply alarming and completely incompatible with
the need to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by more than 80 per cent to
avoid disastrous climate change.
“The government is relying on carbon capture and
storage technology to try to make a dirty industry clean, but they are
pinning our hopes on technology that isn’t available yet. This seems
like a risky strategy at best."
Friends of the Earth has joined in to demand that
the EU strengthens its proposals for cutting European carbon dioxide
emissions, and abandon plans for a massive expansion in biofuels.
Otherwise "its ambitions to lead globally on climate change will not be
credible" it warns. The EU Energy Directive, which is due to be
published this week, will allocate targets to each member state for
cutting emissions and generating energy from renewable.
Note: The UK Energy Bill outlines plans for a threefold increase in UK renewable electricity – but this is expected to be less than half the amount needed to meet the target that the EU is set to allocate to Britain on Wednesday. Friends of the Earth is calling for strong measures to be added to the Bill to boost renewable energy generation.
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