Britain’s plans to cut greenhouse gas output in half by 2027 risk damaging the country’s competitiveness, crimping growth and curbing investment, a lobby group representing 6,000 companies said.
The government’s global warming adviser, the Committee on Climate Change, recommended the U.K. limit emissions to an average of 390 million tons a year from 2022 through 2027, or half the 1990 level. If adopted, the target would harm the economy because other countries are yet to make similar commitments, EEF, the Manufacturers’ Organization, said today.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne is due to announce the so-called carbon budget in Parliament tomorrow. The British Broadcasting Corp. today said the government will accept the committee’s recommendations, which include pressing the 27- nation European Union to boost its 1990 through 2020 reduction target to 30 percent from 20 percent. A spokeswoman for Huhne’s department declined to comment.
“Plowing a lone furrow without international agreement will damage our economy,” EEF Chief Executive Terry Scuoler said today in an e-mailed statement. “There is little if any appetite across the EU for any further move toward a higher target when there is so much economic uncertainty and government must continue to seek international consensus.”
International efforts to craft a climate change treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol when its current emissions limits expire next year have so far stalled amid disputes between developed and developing nations over the scale and pace of greenhouse gas cuts.
If adopted, the U.K.’s fourth “carbon budget” is a victory for Huhne, who pushed for the goals in the face of opposition from Business Secretary Vince Cable, a fellow Liberal Democrat in the Conservative-led coalition. It also comes just over a year after Prime Minister David Cameron pledged his government would be the “greenest ever.”
While Huhne had recommended the government adopt the committee’s advice, Cable said in an April 19 letter to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne that he had “a number of concerns” about supporting the target of 1,950 megatons because assessments showed it “may not be technically feasible” in the U.K.
“Agreeing on too aggressive a level risks burdening the U.K. economy with extra costs which would be detrimental,” Cable wrote in the letter, which was published May 10 on the Financial Times’s Westminster blog.
A spokeswoman for Cable’s department, who declined to be named per government policy, said she couldn’t confirm or deny whether the letter is genuine. She said Cable is committed to the need to reduce emissions, while at the same time raising the concerns of energy-intensive businesses to other government ministers.
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