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Friday, February 03, 2012

Government does not quantify the carbon impact of the military industrial complex

Email response from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (

Dear Mr Lister,

Thank you for your email response of 29 January.

The ‘Durban Platform’ is a roadmap to a global legal agreement applicable to all parties. Negotiations for the new agreement are to begin early this year and are to conclude as early as possible and no later than 2015. The commitments in the new agreement will take effect from 2020.

Many details remain to be worked out over the coming months, including specific emissions reduction targets, the length of the commitment period, and a process for dealing with surplus emissions allowances. But the headline message is clear. The ‘Kyoto architecture’ – the rules and legal framework for managing emissions – have been preserved and can be built on in the future.

You asked for a copy of the GLOBE International research which has found that every major economy has now enacted climate or energy related legislation. Please see

We are doing much to move to a low carbon economy. On transport, for instance, we also promoting smarter travel choices through the £560 Local Sustainable Transport Fund – the fund will allow Local Authorities to invest in sustainable transport projects to help create economic growth and reduce carbon emissions.

There are other examples. We have introduced the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme as part of our long term strategy to combat climate change and secure our energy supply. This will change behaviours and effectively tackle energy waste. The CRC contains drivers such as the Performance League Table to provide reputational motivation, and thorough reporting of energy use to drive best practice energy management. The price signal of the financial element increases incentives and will bring the fight against climate change to the boardroom.

So, we are taking significant and ambitious action to go low carbon and tackle climate change on the domestic front.

You finished your letter with a number of specific questions about carbon budgets which I shall deal with in turn:

As it is the job of your department to speak to others with regard to carbon budgets then can you confirm the following to me:

What discussions your department has had with the Department of Defence about incorporating the carbon budget of building, operating, maintaining and disposing Trident within the UK carbon budget and Climate Change Act?

  • 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 don’t apply on an individual sectoral basis or a particular policy basis.

What discussions has your department had with the Exchequer about quantifying the carbon produced from the section of society that must keep consuming and producing to raise taxes to fund Trident and how will this be incorporated into the Climate Change Act?

  • No discussions have been held on that basis. The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions figures are calculated on a territorial or production basis rather than on a consumption basis, because international reporting to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change require this and also because emissions reporting data on a consumption basis is not as reliable. You may be interested to know that with current planned policies, latest projections published in October indicate that the UK is on track to meet its first three carbon budgets to 2022 and that we expect to reduce emissions to below their levels by 96, 132 and 87 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) respectively, based on central forecasts.

What discussion has your department had with the Ministry of Defence and the Secretary of State for Business about accommodating the carbon for the arms and weapons systems we manufacture for other nations into our carbon budgets? As you should be aware, we are providing Saudi Arabia with arms such as the Typoon jet. This is despite Saudi’s record of impeding climate change negotiations and the majority of the suicide bombers flying planes into the Twin Towers coming from Saudi Arabia.

  • Through collaborative discussion and analysis, the preferred policies and measures to meet carbon budgets are agreed across government. The resulting information on emissions savings estimates by policy provide a tool for assisting in tracking progress and risks to delivery and act as a benchmark for what we expect policies to deliver. Departments are held accountable for delivery through a framework of regular monitoring and reporting against their actions and indicators of progress. You may be interested to read the Carbon Plan, the Government’s strategy which sets out scenarios for achieving the 2050 80% reduction target, and emissions reductions and decarbonisation that will be needed along the way. The Government reports publicly on progress against the actions in the Carbon Plan on a quarterly basis and provides more detailed updates via its response to annual progress reports by the Committee on Climate Change every year.

If you have not yet instigated these discussions, can you confirm that they will immediately commence and that conclusions will be made public before the 28th Feb.

  • As mentioned previously given that we don’t calculate our carbon budgets on an individual policy basis, there are no plans to discuss individual projects or policies in this way.

Yours sincerely,
Bill Lacy
DECC Correspondence Unit
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