In between fielding allegations from his estranged wife over his previous behaviour, yesterday Chris Huhne announced that the government is setting an ambitious target for reducing carbon emissions in the mid-2020s.
The government is accepting the advice of the Committee on Climate Change to set a limit on emissions of of 1,950MT for the fourth carbon budget period of 2023–27, which is equivalent to a 50 per cent cut in UK emissions by 2025.
As Chris Huhne said of the announcement,
It will give investors the certainty they need to invest in clean energy. It puts Britain at the leading edge of a new global industrial transformation as well as making good our determination that this will be the greenest government ever.
The Coalition Government has set a fourth carbon budget level, in line with the advice from the Committee on Climate Change, that sends a clear signal about our determination to transform Britain permanently into a low carbon economy. By cutting emissions we’re also getting ourselves off the oil hook, making our energy supplies more secure and opening up opportunities for jobs in the new green industries of the future.
Through the Green Deal, electricity market reform and the Green Investment Bank we’re already putting in place the tools that will help us meet this ambitious carbon budget. This and every future British Government will have to keep up the pace and put in place the most effective policies to tackle climate change.
Under this carbon budget, Britain in 2027 will be a different place and transformed for the better with warmer homes powered by green energy, many more cars powered by electricity and far less reliance on fossil fuels to drive our economy.
This aim is to reduce emissions domestically as far as practical and affordable, but with the option kept open of trading in order to retain maximum flexibility and minimise costs in the medium to long term.
Announcements later this year are promised on help for a small number of energy-intensive industries exposed to international competition who may find it more difficult to adjust.
The 1,950 MT figure for the fourth carbon budget is consistent with the EU setting a more ambitious target than it has currently, and the government is continuing to argue for an EU target of a 30 per cent cut by 2020 – a push that has already been winning support in Europe.
Setting out this ambitious policy is a decided victory for environmentalists in the government and puts us at the forefront of the international debate, helping to build momentum toward a legally binding global climate change deal. No other country has set carbon targets in this much detail this far ahead.
As Geoffrey Lean put it for the Telegraph:
Acknowledged, even by his enemies, as an exceptionally able minister, Huhne has already implemented – or got well under way – almost all of the pledges on energy and climate change in the Coalition Agreement. Combative by nature, he has faced down strenuous opposition from chancellor George Osborne and, at times, business secretary Vince Cable, to get them through.