Azara Blog: UK government wants legally binding 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050

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Date published: 2006/11/15

The BBC says:

A climate change bill will make the UK government's long-term goal of a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 a legally binding target.

The bill, outlined in the Queen's Speech, will also establish a "Carbon Committee" to ensure the target is met.

But it makes no reference to annual CO2 reductions targets, which opposition parties and environmentalists deem necessary to tackle global warming.

However, ministers said that they would "consider appropriate interim targets".

Annual targets are silly. If you have a cold winter you suddenly find on 25 December that all the remaining coal plants in the country need to be shut down in order to meet your annual target. Well the opposition parties and so-called environmentalists might find this amusing but back in the real world nobody else would. So annual targets would just end up being ignored.

Targets every ten years are more relevant, with review after five years to see if they still make sense. Needless to say, any target for 2050 is meaningless, even if it is allegedly "legally binding". It is easy for today's politicians to promise to today's voters that tomorrow's politicians will gladly crucify tomorrow's voters. When push comes to shove, in 2040 the politicians of the day will be happy to change the law if need be.

Of course if the British economy collapses, for whatever reason, then the target will easily be met.

And CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas, it's a bit bizarre that it garners sole attention here. And of course the calculation of (CO2) emissions will be wrong. If Britain imports Chinese steel then it is Britain that is really responsible for the emissions created in making and shipping the steel, but it will not be tallied as such.

All in all a bill to appease the chattering classes more than anything else.

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