Climate bill to include annual ‘milestones’

The government has accepted environmental groups’ arguments that the Climate Change Bill should require it to set non-binding annual carbon dioxide limits in addition to statutory five-yearly carbon budgets.

The Bill is due to complete its progress through the House of Lords in the next few weeks and will go to the Commons. It should reach the statute book this summer.

On 18 February the government announced the Bill will be revised to include several amendments proposed at Committee stage.

Having already accepted calls for the climate change committee chaired by Adair Turner to review the target to cut CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050, it said the review will become a statutory duty. The committee must give its advice on whether a higher target, such as 80%, is needed and on the first three carbon budgets, by 1 December.

The Secretary of State will also have to publish a report outlining policies that will enable the budgets to be met, and will consider the duty to meet the 2050 target in developing those policies.

The report will also include "an annual indicative range" for each five-year budget. In November, Environment Minister Lord Rooker said annual milestones to show if the government was on track would be "ineffective and fraught with practical difficulties" (ENDS Report 395, p 54 ).

The Confederation of British Industry welcomed the statutory review of the 2050 target but said annual milestones could lead to "undue criticism of government or industry as a result of weather variations, business cycles or the timing of when emission reduction investments come on line".

Another change is that the government will have to seek and take account of advice from the committee in more situations, including before it decides whether to include international aviation or shipping emissions in the UK’s targets and budgets.

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