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Britain Publishes Climate Change Bill

Date: 16-Nov-07
Country: UK

The bill sets a target of cutting national emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide by 60 percent by 2050 and about half that by 2025.

It would make Britain the first country to adopt such a legally binding commitment.

Environmentalists and many politicians had campaigned for a higher goal of 80 percent and annual targets on the way.

But the government has rejected annual targets in favour of rolling five-year "carbon budgets" and has until recently ruled out raising the end goal above 60 percent.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said last month he would ask a climate-monitoring committee to be set up by the bill to see if 80 percent was necessary or feasible.

Scientists say global average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius (3.2 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport.

This will cause floods, droughts, and storms, and threaten millions of lives.

Environmentalists also note that while Britain is on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment to cut carbon emissions by 12.5 percent from 1990 levels by 2012, that is more due to the decline of its smokestack industries than good planning.

They note the country's carbon emissions have risen steadily since the Labour government took power in 1997.

United Nations environment ministers will meet on the Indonesian island of Bali early next month to try to agree to negotiate a successor to Kyoto which is the only international carbon-curbing treaty but which expires in five years' time.

The goal is to get a deal within two years, giving three more years for ratification by enough nations to make it come into effect -- half the time it took to negotiate and ratify the original treaty.

(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell and Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison)

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