The Blair government is heading for political trouble after refusing to accept annual carbon dioxide reduction targets. Instead the government is set to introduce five-yearly targets in the Climate Change Bill to be announced in the Queen’s Speech today. Ministers will promise to monitor annually progress towards the five-year milestones, in order to deliver a 60 per cent reduction on 1990 levels by 2050.
But these moves may not be enough and the government is under intense pressure to go further. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will hold talks aimed at strengthening the measure in the House of Lords, where they can defeat Labour by joining forces.
The Conservatives (who may be opposing the increased congestion charge (see last blog) have published their own draft Bill, which calls for year-on-year cuts. They said Labour’s record illustrated the need for annual reductions, claiming it had dropped a commitment to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2010, and that emissions had risen since 1997.
David Cameron, the Tory leader, said: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing us today, and we can only tackle it if we realise that we all have a responsibility to act – individuals, businesses and government. The Government must deliver a proper climate change Bill in the Queen’s speech – not a watered-down version
Chris Huhne, environment spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: “The climate change Bill has to have teeth and bite. There must be annual targets that allow the Government’s progress on climate change to be assessed. It is not rocket science to allow both for the economic cycle and for the weather – economic forecasters do this all the time. Failing to set annual targets is not because they are difficult, but because ministers do not want to be held accountable by Parliament.”
Blair’s government held accountable by parliament? Don’t mention the war for starters…