MPs warn against loosening fourth carbon budget

The UK must stick to its long term carbon targets to avoid a “dangerous” global 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise, MPs have warned.

As the government prepares to review the fourth carbon budget, which sets out how much the country can emit in 2023-2027, the Environmental Audit Committee said climate science did not warrant any loosening of targets.

Committee chair Joan Walley MP said: “Some commentators are intent on spinning recent developments in climate science to suggest we can relax our efforts to cut carbon, in the mistaken belief that this would be better for our economy.

“Given that emissions are currently not falling fast enough to prevent a dangerous destabilisation of the global climate in the coming decades it would be incredibly short-sighted to slacken our carbon budgets now.”

“The UK’s leading climate scientists are saying loud and clear that there is no scientific case for watering down our long term emissions reduction targets. And the recent IPCC report echoes that message. Policy-makers must listen.”

In a report published on Tuesday, the MPs also called for stronger action to go green by the mid-2020s. The first and second carbon budgets, taking the UK up to 2017, will be “easily met because of the recession”, the MPs concluded following an inquiry. However, not enough progress is being made in decarbonising transport, buildings and heat production to meet subsequent budgets, they said.

Walley added: “The Government should be introducing innovative policies now to ensure that Britain is well on the way to going green by the middle of the 2020s. Ministers need to show much more vision now on how we can cut waste, improve our public transport and insulate more homes and businesses from rising fossil fuel costs. If we leave these changes for another ten years it will become much more expensive to meet our climate change targets and we will be left behind by successful green countries like Germany.”