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Saturday, October 14, 2017

UK climate change plan hits the rocks

Whatever one might think about the Welsh Government's record on the environment, at least we can acknowledge that they understand the problems and that they try, even if sometimes that effort is ineffective or insufficient. The same cannot be said for the UK Government.

As the Independent reports, experts in the field believe that the Government has “blown an enormous opportunity” to transform Britain’s record on climate change. They are very critical of the UK's long-awaited green master plan:

Ministers unveiled their much-delayed clean growth strategy this week, which sets out more than 50 measures to boost energy efficiency and clean power to get the UK on track to meet key emissions targets - which it is currently set to miss by a wide margin.

The blueprint drew criticism from the Government's own independent climate advisers over its suggestion that "flexibilities" in the law could be used to meet legally binding targets on cutting greenhouse gases. The Government also faces a threat of legal action as the strategy concedes that the UK may not meet these key targets for the late 2020s and early 2030s, despite wide-ranging measures to cut emissions.

Environmental campaigners raised concern that the strategy was too timid and failed to contain the necessary measures to meet the UK's own laws on cutting carbon.

The criticism is wide-ranging and non-partisan:

Lord Deben, chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, the climate change watchdog, said the strategy would kickstart efforts to meet the UK's carbon targets but rejected its suggestion that "flexibilities" in the Climate Change Act could be used to meet targets.

Activist lawyers ClientEarth, which took the Government to court over failures on air pollution, said the firm was considering legal options as the UK set to miss its emissions reductions target for 2023 to 2027 by 116 million tonnes - equivalent to the Philippines' annual emissions.

Simon Bullock, Friends of the Earth senior climate campaigner, warned that the UK was still "stuck in a rut" over fossil fuels, transport and airport expansion.

He said: "While the plan has some huge gaps the government is rightly presenting tackling climate change as a massive opportunity for economic rebirth, and for Britain to lead the world.

“But clearly there is far more actual policy needed – the plan does not deliver on UK targets for cutting emissions, let alone the more ambitious Paris climate agreement, and some parts of government are still firmly stuck in a rut of more fossil fuels, roads and runways.”

Back to the drawing board then.
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