Friends of the Earth welcomes UK government acceptance of 4th carbon budget but concerned about ‘get-out clause’

May 17th, 2011 by Friends of the Earth

Confirmation on 17 May 2011 that the UK Government will accept its climate advisors’ call for significant cuts in UK carbon emissions by 2027 has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth – but the group warns that a ‘get-out clause’, which would enable Ministers to weaken UK climate targets if EU nations do not deliver sufficient cuts, could undermine business confidence in investing in a greener future.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said “David Cameron’s welcome decision to back Chris Huhne over the climate committee’s call for tougher global warming action will boost his flagging green credentials.

“But the inclusion of a get-out clause’, in case Europe doesn’t cut emissions fast enough, creates needless uncertainty that could dent business confidence – and all just to save face for the Chancellor and Business Secretary, who opposed this agreement.

“The Cabinet row over carbon budgets is a clear warning that some key Government departments are still only thinking about the short-term and would scupper moves to develop a low-carbon economy.

“Ministers must now get on with the urgent task of fast-tracking the development of a low-carbon economy which will create new jobs and business opportunities and wean the nation off its costly addiction to fossil fuels.”

The Committee on Climate Change‘s recommendations are supported by many of the UK’s leading companies, including Tesco, Shell, EDF Energy, Unilever and Lloyds, whose leaders recently wrote to David Cameron urging him to heed the advice and reiterating “our longstanding support for strong and clear action on climate change based on the science.”

As the Government moves on to explain how the carbon budgets will be met, Friends of the Earth will be urging them to accept the other key recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change’s, including:

1. Setting an indicative emissions reduction target of 60% by 2030, based on 1990 levels

2. Adjusting the second and third budget – legally binding ceilings on the level of allowed UK emissions over five year periods – to make them slightly more ambitious, to put us in a good position to meet the Fourth Carbon Budget, covering the period 2023-2027;

3. Confirming the UK would make the cuts in the fourth budget at home in the UK – not by purchasing “carbon credits” from overseas to meet the target;

4. Offering to tighten the carbon budget further if a global deal on climate change is settled.


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