Climate Bill to cover planes and ships

The Climate Change Bill will now cover greenhouse gas emissions from aviation and shipping after MPs added an extra clause during a debate in the Commons this week

The government had previously resisted including the sizeable emissions from these sectors, arguing that their global nature meant that an international agreement was needed to allocate emissions between countries. But MPs voted to include them, although the details of how this will done have yet to be decided.

MPs also voted to raise the carbon reduction target from 60% by 2050 to 80% by 2050, in line with recommendations made by the Committee on Climate Change last month (ENDS Report 405, p 5). However, MPs did not actually debate the implications of the increase because they ran out of time.

Another amendment adopted will force all large and medium-sized companies to report on their carbon emissions in a standardised way by 2012. The government will consult on how emissions should be defined and measured next year.

A proposed clause limit the maximum amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a power station per unit of energy produced was rejected by the government.

The Bill was voted through by 463 votes to three, with three Tory MPs voted against.

The idea for the Bill originally came from Friends of the Earth (FoE), which campaigned for it through its three-year “Big Ask” campaign. It hailed the legislation’s advance as “a victory for people power in the fight against climate change”.

However, it criticised the Bill for not limiting the amount the UK can offset by purchasing credits from outside Europe. FoE fears that the government will buy in carbon credits from abroad and count them towards national emissions reduction targets, rather than cutting emissions at home.

The Bill is expected to gain Royal Assent next month. In December the government will set the UK carbon budget for the next five years and reveal where the cuts in emissions will be made.