Climate bill set to be unveiled

The government is due to announce its draft climate change bill, aiming to cut Britain's carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by the year 2050.

Climate bill set to be unveiled

Ministers say the law gives the UK the world's first legal framework for transition to a low-carbon economy.

Environment Secretary David Miliband has rejected opposition calls for annual targets on reducing emissions.

"Changing your policy on the basis of one year's weather isn't a sensible way of doing things," he told the BBC.

'Real confidence'

Under the bill, carbon "budgets" will be set every five years following independent advice.

The government will also have to report annually to Parliament on its progress in controlling emissions.

At the weekend, the Conservatives unveiled environmental proposals including VAT or fuel duty on domestic flights and a green air miles scheme.

But Mr Miliband said more focus was needed on cutting carbon emissions from homes, citing government plans to make all new houses carbon neutral by 2016 and encourage the use of energy-efficient light bulbs.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "At the moment, domestic buildings account for 25% of the UK emissions.

"Aviation represents 5%, so aviation is important but it's one fifth as important for this big problem as domestic emissions."

Mr Miliband added: "If we are going to fly more, we've got to do something else less.

"In the end the planet doesn't mind whether it's an aviation emission or another emission."

He also said that "criminalising aviation won't save the planet".

Amendments

Chancellor Gordon Brown said the bill would mean governments would "manage our carbon budgets with the same prudence and discipline" as economic budgets.

But BBC environment correspondent Sarah Mukherjee said opposition MPs were planning to table amendments which would force the government to accept annual targets.

David Miliband
David Miliband says annual targets are not sensible

Ahead of the bill's publication, shadow environment secretary Peter Ainsworth said: "David Cameron has pushed climate change to the top of the political agenda.

"But this is too important an issue for normal party politics. We want to work with the government and other parties to get the right framework in place."

He went on: "To be truly effective, any bill should have three elements: annual emission reduction targets; an independent body to set as well as monitor these targets; and an annual carbon budget report from the secretary of state.

"We've got to stop having a system whereby targets are set 10 years in advance, ignored up until year eight, and then are quietly dropped in year nine."

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne said his party was "certainly supporting the bill" but that the 60% target may "not be good enough".

"We may well need to aim more towards about 80%, but it's a good first start and the framework is broadly right," he told BBC News.

Christian Aid's senior climate policy officer, Andrew Pendleton, said: "Mr Miliband is to be congratulated for publishing the bill and he is right to be proud of it - he and the government are an example to the rest of the G8.

"But if the final legislation is not significantly stronger, the process would represent a massive lost opportunity. It is the first step on a long journey rather than the destination itself."

 

BBC

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