Climate change: 60% is not enough

We are at a crucial stage in the Parliamentary process for campaigners who want to see the UK sign up to realistic targets on climate change, and a new Facebook campaign has been launched to muster support.

The Government’s Climate Change Bill, which proposes a statutory target of a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, is currently being considered by the House of Lords. Most environmental campaigners, leading scientists and even the Prime Minister, seem to accept that 60% is likely to be too little, too late.

The Liberal Democrats are therefore arguing that the Bill should be amended to give a statutory target of 80%, and we are seeking to build a coalition of MPs of all parties who share our concern in order to get the Bill amended when MPs consider it later in the Spring.

The Government’s position is reflect in my recent exchange with Hilary Benn in the Commons:

Steve Webb (Northavon) (LD): In the light of the latest scientific evidence on the speed of climate change, what is Ministers’ latest assessment of the adequacy, or otherwise, of a 60 per cent. CO2 reduction target?

Hilary Benn: The hon. Gentleman will have seen the speech that the Prime Minister made in November. The target of at least 60 per cent. was set in the light of royal commission advice, but the Prime Minister has acknowledged, as we all do, that the science is evolving – we read the reports – and that is why he said that it is now felt that the reduction might need to be increased to 80 per cent. That is also why we will ask the Committee on Climate Change, as one of its first tasks under its new chair, to advise on what the 2050 figure should be. To make a point that relates to a number of issues to do with the Bill, having established this important, authoritative and influential body, we should let it do its job and give us the advice, so that the Government can then take the final decision on what to do.

Our view is that this approach is too cautious. The balance of the evidence is moving in the direction of the case for faster action, and we cannot wait for the ‘great and the good’ to tell us what is becoming increasingly clear.

To register your support for the campaign we have set up a Facebook page for this purpose. By joining you help to show the strength of support for the campaign. You can also use the site to report back on what your local MP said when you asked if s/he would back an amendment to put 80% in the Bill.

Please spread the word so that we can build up a level of support that even the Government cannot ignore!

Steve Webb is the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Energy, Food and Rural Affairs

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