From: Reuters
Published February 18, 2008 01:20 PM

Britain's climate bill target to be reviewed by year end

By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's goal of cutting emissions of climate warming carbon dioxide by 60 percent by 2050 will be reviewed by the end of the year and may be raised, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said on Monday.

The goal is at the heart of the Climate Change Bill currently going through parliament which is expected to become law within three months.

"The scientific evidence has moved rapidly, and as part of a new global climate deal, developed countries may have to cut their emissions by as much as 80 per cent by 2050. That's why we announced a review of the UK target last year," Benn said.

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"This review will now be a statutory duty, and I've asked the committee to provide their advice on both the 2050 target and on the first three carbon budgets by December 1 this year," he added.

The bill sets up an independent committee to monitor progress towards achieving the 2050 target, the interim goal of cutting emissions by 26-32 percent by 2020 and the rolling carbon budgets.

The government has been under relentless pressure both to raise the core target and to set annual reduction targets rather than the more vague rolling five-year carbon budgets.

Proposing several amendments to the bill as it heads through the parliamentary process, Benn said the rolling budgets would remain but there would also be indicative annual ranges within them to make monitoring more meaningful.

"We welcome the government's announcement that it is going to set annual target ranges for cutting emissions in the new Climate Change Law," said Friends of the Earth. "The findings of this review have brought us one step closer to a stronger and more effective climate law."

The bill allows Britain to buy carbon emission credits abroad to help towards meeting its national reduction targets, an allowance critics see as a fundamental weakness.

It also contains provisions to allow the introduction of new carbon trading schemes to help create the carbon price the government says is vital to drive increased energy efficiency and technical innovation.

Another provision of the bill will force the government to regularly assess the impact of climate change on Britain and report to parliament.

(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; editing by James Jukwey)

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