Energy secretary Chris Huhne yesterday announced a 50 per cent cut in the UK’s carbon emissions by 2025, which represents one of the most ambitious targets on greenhouse gases set by any developed country.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Huhne said the government would accept the recommendations from the independent
Committee on Climate Change
for the fourth carbon budget for the period between 2023 and 2027, which will enable the UK to cut its emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
The carbon budget runs from 2023 to 2027, and is part of efforts to meet legally binding emissions cuts of 80 per cent by 2050. It will put the UK on target for 60 per cent cuts by 2030.
However, there will be a review of the budget in 2014, under a compromise.
Huhne confirmed the government would produce plans later in the year outlining ways to compensate energy-intensive businesses for any competitive disadvantage. The policies necessary to meet the new carbon targets are due to be set out in October.
Quoted by the Guardian newspaper, Connie Hedegaard, the European Union's climate change chief, said the outcome was "very encouraging" and "an example" to other countries, showing that countries could pursue economic growth while still cutting emissions.
Others voiced a note of caution.
Dr Tim Fox, head of Energy and Environment at the
Institution of Mechanical Engineers
, said: “These proposals are welcome but exceptionally ambitious and are unlikely to be achieved without substantial policy support.
"There needs to be a radical step change to make these ambitions a reality. Government must introduce a stable, robust and supportive planning system – including the urgent introduction of the delayed National Policy Statements, and Government also has an important role in investing strategically to bring forward emerging technologies with clear potential in the UK, like wave, tidal and carbon capture and storage.”
While some businesses reacted angrily to the news, arguing that going further than other countries in cutting carbon would damage the competitiveness of Britain’s industrial sector.
According the Guardian newspaper, Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the industry body for the UK's manufacturing sector, said: "This is a bad decision for manufacturing."