The Carbon Budget

Hats off to David Cameron. He has smacked down the “dark forces” within the Treasury by approving the fourth carbon budget, as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change. James Murray at Business Green endorses the proposed budget as:

[G]enuinely world-leading in its breadth and ambition. It will impose legally binding targets requiring the UK to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50 per cent by 2050 and 60 per cent by 2030, in the process ensuring that the country’s electricity infrastructure is all but decarbonised within 20 years.

If the plan is enacted fully, the UK will generate 40 per cent of its energy from renewables and 40 per cent from nuclear by 2030, the remaining 20 per cent coming from relatively clean fossil fuel power plants, many of which will feature carbon capture and storage technology

Moreover, by 2025, 2.6 million homes will have highly energy efficient heat pumps, and almost a third of new cars will be electric. Every component of the economy will face similar levels of revolutionary change, ensuring that the UK will almost certainly become one of the world’s premier low carbon economies, generating billions of pounds a year from exporting green technologies and expertise.

Certainly, Cameron deserves praise for his boldness in passing the budget. However, the Osborne-Cable alliance did win some important concessions. As Joss Garman points out at Left Foot Forward:

[I]t appears that whilst the government will accept the CCC’s advice on the scale of the carbon targets for the mid-late 2020s, they won’t accept the recommendation that short term cuts need to be increased.

Understandably, some will rightly point out that it’s convenient for the prime minister to agree to a 50% cut in UK emissions by 2025 – when he’s unlikely to still be in power, but to reject the advice of raising the 2020 target. Equally, it is understood that government will announce tomorrow it will rely on carbon offsets to a greater extent than is recommended by the climate committee.

This is a classic case of politics influencing policy. But no matter what some doom merchants may say in tomorrow’s papers, be in no doubt, this remains a radical piece of climate legislation. It commits to concrete action. It is to be welcomed.


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