BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 02:51 GMT
UK 'may fail on climate cuts'
Waves at seafront   PA
Wave energy and other renewables could help, the report says

The UK Government is unlikely to meet its pledge to cut a key greenhouse gas, a respected advisory group says.

The advisers, the Sustainable Development Commission, say measures for significantly reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are lacking.

Internationally, the government has driven things forwards on climate change, but domestically I'm not so sure

Walter Menzies, Sustainable Development Commission
They praise ministers for working to achieve a more modest international commitment to cut greenhouse gases.

And they say there is a need for political leadership to boost climate change policies.

The commission has published a report, UK Climate Change Programme: A policy audit, which it says is a contribution to the government's review of the programme, promised for later in 2003.

The UK is committed under the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement on tackling climate change, to cut emissions of six greenhouse gases to 12.5% below their 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012.

Heading for failure

The commission says: "We believe the UK is likely to achieve its Kyoto target... Few other countries can claim that. It is a positive point, which we must build on in encouraging greater efforts internationally."

But the government has also promised to cut emissions of CO2, the main greenhouse gas produced by human activities, to 20% below their 1990 levels by 2010.

Electric train   BBC
Transport is a key problem
The commission says its analysis shows the UK "will fall well short" of this goal "unless further measures are taken".

It says measures to achieve the goal "are simply not in place. The UK is unlikely to achieve even two-thirds of that reduction, and maybe less than half."

The commission adds: "This is not a reason to abandon the goal, but to redouble efforts to achieve it. There is still time to do so.

"And there are great benefits, not only for the long term by helping to slow global climate change, but immediately through business opportunities for low-carbon technologies and by giving ourselves a better quality of life all round.

No new thinking

"The emissions reductions from the 10-year transport plan are particularly at risk. And international air travel, not even included in the calculations or the goal, threatens to blow away all the good work in industry and other sectors."

In one key finding, it says: "Looking beyond 2010, the UK projections do not yet show the radical shift needed towards a low carbon path, nor are the policies in place to achieve more sustainable patterns of energy generation and consumption."

Cooling tower and wind turbines   AP
New energy can replace older forms
Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the commission, said: "These are disturbing findings. The Government must now seize the opportunity of using the energy White Paper to bring us back on track for 2010, and set us on a low-carbon path into the longer term."

Publication of the White Paper, spelling out the government's policy proposals on energy, is expected in March.

Walter Menzies, a member of the Sustainable Development Commission, told BBC News Online: "It's not all bad by any means - it's more a question of 'could do better'.

Living in hope

"I think the big litmus test is the White Paper. If ever there were a test of government policy on sustainable development, it'll be that.

"It's a hugely difficult question, but we've been quite encouraged by our discussions with ministers and officials.

"Internationally, the government has driven things forwards on climate change, but domestically I'm not so sure.

"We're looking forward to the Prime Minister making his first substantial speech on sustainable development. Watch this space."

Other measures the report calls for include progress on energy efficiency, transport, combined heat and power schemes, and renewable energy sources.

See also:

29 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
19 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
23 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
26 Aug 02 | Politics
26 Aug 02 | UK
11 Feb 03 | Science/Nature
Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes