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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

DECC climate change strategy is based on out dated documents

7 February 2012

Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you for your email of 5 February, in response to my letter to you of 3 February (TO2012/01525/BL).

The Government is clear that domestic legislation alone is not enough to tackle climate change and that international cooperation is needed, as the Durban Platform states. In this sense, I would reiterate the achievements at Durban: the successful agreement to a roadmap which would lead to a new global legally binding agreement with emissions reductions commitments for all but the poorest and most vulnerable countries; a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol to be agreed next year; and the establishment of the Green Climate Fund to help deliver financial support to developing countries to reduce emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.

The UK remains committed to tackling global emissions, and will submit as part of the EU its views on increasing the level of international mitigation ambition by the 28 February, as set out in the Durban Conference on Climate Change. The EU submission of 20 September gives some indication of the views held by the EU on this issue. Please see the following link:

I would also say that choosing between economic growth and going green is a false dichotomy; indeed, the two are inextricably linked. It is from the green industry that economic growth will come (to take one example from just one industry, up to 10,000 jobs will be created in the the solar panel industry in the next three years).

On Trident, I reiterate that the five year Carbon Budgets introduced by the Climate Change Act 2008 set a cap or limit on greenhouse emissions on an overall economy wide basis and therefore do not apply on an individual sectoral basis or a particular policy basis.

I appreciate your strong views on the issue of Trident. However, as we have said before in previous correspondence, the Government’s position is that, while we are committed to the long-term goal of nuclear disarmament, we believe we can best protect ourselves against these threats by the continued operation of a minimum, credible nuclear deterrent. Accordingly, this Government has committed to maintain the deterrent and to continue with the programme to renew it as debated and approved by Parliament in 2007.

Whether or not you agree with it, Parliament has taken a conscious and well informed decision and we are not sliding towards Trident’s replacement.

Carbon budgets are legally binding and Government is totally committed to meeting them. Indeed, the latest emissions projections (published June 2010) show we expect to reduce emissions to below the first three carbon budgets by 29 MtCO2e, 68 MtCO2e and 50 MtCO2e, respectively (central emissions scenario).

We do not agree that not meeting our emissions targets is ‘likely’. However, if the budgets are not met through reductions in domestic emissions, carbon credits can be bought to meet them. Government has to set a limit on the amount of credits that can be purchased on a carbon budget by budget basis. The limit for the first budget period is zero.

If a carbon budget is exceeded, even taking into account of any credits, section 19 of the Climate Change Act requires that the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a report setting out proposals and policies to compensate in future periods for the excess emissions.

The statutory basis of the targets and budgets in the Act means that any failure to meet a budget carries a risk to Government of judicial review.

In answer to your question on carbon reductions, please refer to the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan (2009), found on the DECC website, which plots how the UK will meet cuts in emissions by 2020:

Yours sincerely,
Bill Lacy
DECC Correspondence Unit
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