Britain to decide on fourth carbon budget in Q1: Government

LONDON Wed Jan 8, 2014 2:09pm GMT

The sun rises behind Fiddlers Ferry coal fired power station near Liverpool, northern England, December 15 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble

The sun rises behind Fiddlers Ferry coal fired power station near Liverpool, northern England, December 15 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Phil Noble

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will decide whether to alter or stick with an ambitious goal to curb emissions from 2023 to 2027 by the end of the first quarter this year, a government spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The so-called fourth carbon budget has been a subject of debate among some politicians who argue for a weaker emissions cut target to prevent damage to the economy and government advisors who say altering the goals will undermine investor confidence in low-carbon technology.

"We will be publishing our decision on this in the next two months. We don't have an exact date as yet," a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) told Reuters via email.

The government's Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said in November there have been no significant changes in climate science or international efforts to cut emissions since the goal in the government's fourth carbon budget was set two years ago and that it should not be changed.

Britain has set legally binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions over four five-year periods to 2027, known as carbon budgets, which aim to put it on track towards cutting emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by the middle of the century.

In 2011, the government set its fourth carbon budget to cover the period 2023 to 2027, which would require an emissions cut of 50 percent.

However, it said it would decide in 2014 whether the budget should be revised to reflect progress in cutting emissions in the European Union.

Britain is calling on the European Commission to set a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 40-50 percent on 1990 levels by 2030.

CCC member Lord Deben told a cross party group of MPs on Wednesday that if the 50 percent target was taken up by Europe, Britain would need to consider tightening the fourth carbon budget.

"Where we are brings us to the lower level of what the EU is considering," he said.

(Editing by Keiron Henderson)

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