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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 03:14 GMT 04:14 UK
Government 'lagging on climate'
More effort is needed to cut traffic emissions, MPs say
The UK government is a "climate laggard" when it comes to policies on tackling global warming, MPs say.

A report for the all-party environment group of MPs says current efforts are failing to curb emissions from businesses, transport and homes.

It says ministers have failed to "turn rhetoric into reality" when it comes to delivering plans to reduce emissions.

Meanwhile naturalist David Attenborough has urged society to help stop global warming becoming a "catastrophe".

The broadcaster told the BBC's 10 O'Clock News climate change was an issue that "everybody needs to be involved in".

"We almost have to feel that if we waste we are morally responsible."

The analysis shows that while the government has been innovative in some areas, it has time and again fallen down on delivery
Norman Baker
Chairman of environment group

Mr Attenborough said politicians would address environmental issues "if the electorate demands it".

He said he would have spoken out on the issue of global warming 10 years ago had the evidence existed, but now had "no hesitation" in saying the Earth was warming up at a faster rate than for many years, "and we are contributing to the rise".

The MPs' report was compiled by the Institute for European Environmental Policy.

The group's chairman, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, said: "This comprehensive independent report provides a clear snapshot to show how the government is measuring up to the challenges of climate change.

"Sadly, the answer is not very well. The analysis shows that while the government has been innovative in some areas, it has time and again fallen down on delivery."

The report's conclusions include:

  • the link between energy and climate policy is too weak
  • renewables sector should be given greater priority
  • efforts to limit emissions from transport need to be more ambitious
  • annual reports should be used to highlight "priority climate issues"
  • all government departments need to set clear climate targets

Global leadership

The report did applaud the government's promotion of the European emissions trading scheme (ETS), saying that the UK had "benefited both in terms of reputation and economically from this proactive approach".

Wind Turbines (Image: PA)
The report calls for renewables to be given greater priority

It said the UK was playing a key role on the international stage and that it was "committed to using its reputation and negotiating power to achieve change at this level".

But it added domestic efforts lagged behind the expectation generated by the UK's global leadership.

In March, then-Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said the UK was unlikely to meet its own target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010.

Unveiling the updated climate change programme, Mrs Beckett said that the government was not giving up on achieving the goal, but said new and existing policies were likely deliver a reduction of 15-18%.

However, she said that the UK was on course to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12% from 1990 levels by the end of the decade, as required by the Kyoto Protocol.

The government is currently putting together its energy review which is expected to be published in July, and is set to unveil a new set of emission targets for large businesses by the end of the year.

Graph showing UK emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (BBC)
The UK is currently on track to meet its Kyoto commitment to reduce emissions of six different greenhouse gases by an average of 12.5% compared with 1990 levels over the years 2008 to 2012
The fall in emissions through the 1990s and early part of the 2000s was achieved at a time of strong growth in the UK economy
Carbon dioxide emissions have risen recently, largely due to increased burning of coal in power stations. This was prompted by a rise in the price of gas (gas is "cleaner" than coal)
The Labour administration has stated in three election manifestos that it would like to see a 20% cut in CO2 emissions by 2010

UK to miss CO2 emissions target
28 Mar 06 |  Science/Nature
Britain misses the climate bus
28 Mar 06 |  Science/Nature
Whitehall in greenhouse gases row
02 Feb 06 |  Science/Nature


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