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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Opinion: UK climate change policy

The government has published its review into UK policies aimed at tackling climate change and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Below, a range of people involved in the debate give their reaction to the government's report.

Guy Thompson - Green Alliance director

Green Alliance director Guy Thompson

Today's announcement simply confirms what we already knew. The government is off course to meet its own climate change target and fast running out of time.

The review places even more pressure on the decision the government must take by the end of the year regarding its allocation for the second phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown want to see the scheme extended beyond 2012 but business needs confidence that there will be a robust carbon market now.

Given its importance to the success of the government's climate change policy, this is the biggest environmental decision of Labour's third term.

The measures on household energy efficiency are welcome and a sign that the government is waking up to the need to change behaviour at an individual level.

But there is a huge amount of uncertainty around the carbon reductions that the measures in housing and transport will deliver.

Dr Ashok Sinha - Director of Stop Climate Chaos, the UK's climate change coalition

Stop Climate Chaos director Dr Ashok Sinha

Today's climate review will generate considerable disappointment amongst members of Stop Climate Chaos as the overall approach is flawed.

The review does not offer an effective solution for controlling total UK emissions. The government needs to address this now by setting a Carbon Budget, a comprehensive framework covering emissions across the whole economy.

We hear government departments have focused and disagreed on necessary emissions reductions in the industrial sector. This illustrates two big-picture problems: first, this scheme only covers around half of the economy, leaving no effective control over emissions for the remainder; second, there should be no further debates on how much we need to reduce emissions - science shows that big emitting countries need to consistently lower emissions by 3% a year from now to avoid climate chaos.

We are pleased to see the review contains a glimmer of hope with the proposed consideration of 'carbon budgeting'.

A carbon budget to deliver this 3% annual target would settle the argument about overall direction and ensure everyone is focused on delivery. We need public pressure to ensure this happens.

Mike Hulme - Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia

Mike Hulme, Tyndall Centre Director

The government should be commended on laying out the most comprehensive policy programme on climate change of any nation state.

The headline criticism that the government's manifesto target of a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010 will not be met is a diversion - and another example of something we are all so good at: passing the blame.

Our international obligation under the Kyoto Protocol will be met and we will go well beyond that.

Remember, this is a serious policy programme being undertaken in an open democracy where most people are more concerned about their pensions - witness today's strikes - than about climate change.

The real issues I would like to see debated are:

  • Can the government sign-up to a cross-party consensus on key climate policy goals and measures, with independent scrutiny?
  • How are we to design an international set of agreements beyond 2012 which will tie the world into a manageable climate future?
  • To what extent the British public are prepared to adapt their own lifestyle choices to meeting climate policy goals?

Mark Clare - British Gas managing director

Mark Clare, British Gas managing director

We fully support the government's programme to strengthen consumer demand for energy efficiency measures.

British Gas initiatives such as our council tax rebate programme have already begun to cut through the consumer apathy that has hindered progress in this area in the past.

To help build on this success it's now critical that the government secures the full engagement of the British public.

Ultimately it is they who, through their energy bills, bear the costs of the government's increasing obligation on suppliers to improve household energy efficiency and secure renewable electricity.

We also support the government's increasing focus on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme which has already proved that a cap and trade approach to carbon management works.

It should be bold and target savings towards the top end of the three to eight million tonne range. We believe this is both achievable, and the only way to hasten the transition away from high polluting forms of power generation.

John Cridland - CBI deputy director-general

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general

To meet the new stretched national targets will require action across all parts of society, and the government's programme contains some sensible measures to encourage consumers to do so - It is a step in the right direction.

Business knows that tackling climate change cannot be ducked and intends to do its part - but it cannot keep shouldering most of the burden.

Of all the reductions in emissions achieved in the UK since 1990, business has been responsible for delivering 80% of them. Yet, today's figures pile between a half and two-thirds of the additional cuts on business.

Phase two of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme would also result in further hikes in energy costs at a time when firms are enduring the highest gas and electricity prices for more than a decade.

UK to miss CO2 emissions target
28 Mar 06 |  Science/Nature
Britain misses the climate bus
28 Mar 06 |  Science/Nature
Archbishop urges emissions cuts
28 Mar 06 |  Science/Nature

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